Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, January 13, 2019

So far, so good–no ‘s’ word. Today’s already at 48F/9C, with scattered clouds.  Our four-legged family members have already scattered outdoors, taking advantage of another decent day. I did spot a couple of neighbors raking their yards yesterday. Is this a good sign or are they too optimistic?

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

Matteo Palmieri, Italian writer (Della vita civile); Mark Alexander Boyd, Scottish poet; Richard Hurd, English bishop and writer; Victor de Laprade, French poet and critic; Horatio Alger, American clergyman and author (Disagreeable Woman, Ragged Dick); Karl Bleibtreu, German author (Revolution of Literature); Kostis Palamas, Greek poet; Clarke Ashton Smith, American sci-fi author (Lost Worlds, Genius Loci); Anton Betzner, German writer; A. B. Guthrie, American novelist, historian; Dachine Rainer, British writer; Carolyn Heilbrun, [Amanda Cross], author (Lady Ottoline’s Album); Pamela M Cunnington, English architect/author (Change of Use); Michael Bond, British writer; Ron Goulart, American sci-fi author (Deadwalk, Plunder); Edmund White, American author; [Eileen] Joy[ce] Chant [Rutter], UK, sci-fi author (High Kings); Jay McInerney, American novelist (Bright Lights, Big City); and Lorrie Moore, American writer.

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

My brain cells were working overtime this week as I completed three chapters of Carnage in Singapore. I anticipate completing the first draft of the manuscript by the end of February. Then the fun will begin–editing! 

To assist me with improving my craft, I continue to post my chapters on the two subscription writing sites I use. So far, I’ve received 569 chapter reviews, all very useful to me as I move forward with this novel.

My outline for Carnage in Singapore has been modified, hopefully for the final time. I’m pleased with the progress thus far and look forward to the next stage in the process. Perhaps next time, I’ll include a snippet or two.

Books I’m Reading

During the past week my nightly reading has increased and I finished two more novels. The first is The Viking (The Vikings Series Book 1) by Marti Talbott.  I found this to be a delightful story, even if some of the attempts at Scottish dialect seemed a bit off. The story is well-written and the characters are vivid. It’s easy to conjure up the hard life most people had under clan rule and how two young people, the Viking Stefan, and the Scottish lass Kannak, could fall for each other. Look forward to reading another in the series.

I also completed Rogue Operator (Dylan Kane #1) by J. Robert Kennedy. What happens when three scientists working on a top secret project which could destroy the world disappear? Chris, a CIA research analyst, and a field agent named Dylan become embroiled in a plot to create a world war so certain companies could reap the financial benefits. No spoiler alert–you’ll have to pick up a copy and find out who wins!

This is a well-crafted story with plenty of twists and turns. It didn’t take long for me to read as I found it difficult to put it down. The main characters are realistic and share a variety of emotions with the readers, including love, hate, anxiety, worry, and elation. Although this is the first book I’ve read by J. Robert Kennedy, it won’t be the last.

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, January 6, 2019

Happy New Year! Hope the new year brings everyone health and prosperity!

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

Helius Eobanus Hessus, German poet (Silvae); Claude Favre de Vaugelas, French man of letters; Domingos dos Reis Quita, Portuguese playwright & poet; Matija A Reljkovic, Habsburg military officer & Croatian writer (Satir iliti divji covic); Ion Heliade-Radulescu, Romanian writer (Gramatica); Herman Grimm, German writer & novelist (Ralph Waldo Emerson); Kanagaki Robun [Bunzo Nozaki], Japanese humorist/gesaku-author; Carl Sandburg, American poet & biographer of Lincoln (The People, Yes); Khalil Gibran, Lebanese mystic & poet (The Prophet, Broken Wings); Jan Filip Boon, Flemish journalist & editor (De Standaard 1929-39); Eric Frank Russell, British sci-fi author (Hugo, Deep Space, Dark Tides); Benedict Vilakazi, South African Zulu poet & educator (Zulu-English Dictionary); Wright Morris, American novelist & photographer; Joey Adams [Joseph Abramowitz], American comedian, actor and columnist (ABC’s Back That Fact); Alan Watts, British-American philosopher (Book on the Taboo); Vincent Serventy, Australian writer and conservationist; Leah Chase, New Orleans chef & author; Jacobo Timerman, Soviet-born Argentine writer; Denis Pitts, English journalist; E. L. Doctorow, American author (Ragtime, Billy Bathgate); P J Kavanagh [Patrick Joeseph], British poet, actor and journalist (The Perfect Stranger); Mario Rodríguez Cobos (aka Silo), Argentine writer and spiritual leader; Penny Lernoux, American journalist; Osvaldo Soriano, Argentine journalist & writer; Barry Lopez, American author (Of Wolves & Men); and Allen Appel, American novelist.

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

As we move into the new year, much of my writing time has been devoted to social media marketing of Dangerous Alliance. However, I still found time to complete another chapter of my next novel, Carnage in Singapore. To date, there’s been 541 chapter reviews from the two subscription writing site I use, all helping to improve my stories.

I also spent time revising the outline for Carnage in Singapore so things all come together as the final chapters are written.

Books I’m Reading

Over the past few days I finished reading Corktown (Abby Kane Thriller Book 1) by Ty Hutchinson.  This is the first novel of Ty’s that I’ve read and it won’t be the last. Corktown is a whirlwind plot of action, violence, sex, and some tender moments. Will FBI agent Abby Kane be able to solve the spate of murders or will she become a victim?

I don’t like to provide spoilers, but suffice to say all thriller readers will find something in this first book of a new series by an established writer. With a well-written plot, believable characters, and a crime to solve, you’ll be hard-pressed to put it down until you’ve turned the final page. I look forward to reading the next on in the series!

I also read The Blackstone Conspiracy by Sylvain Pavlowski. Jack, a journalist, and Thomas, a computer genius, uncover a conspiracy to shake up the world. Is the murder of a prominent politician part of the plot or a coincidence? This is a well-crafted story with plenty of twists and turns before coming to its climax. From my perspective the manuscript could have benefited from the services of an independent editor as I found myself ‘fixing’ the myriad of errors as I read. Saying this, I will still check out more work by Sylvain as he’s done an excellent job spinning his tale.

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, December 30, 2018

Despite the end of the year being upon us, the weather hasn’t been bad, with temperatures around 50F/10C. Of course, it also means we’re having damp days, but it can’t be helped. I think I’d rather have this than be out with the shovel taking care of the ‘s’ word.

With the dawn of 2019 approaching I want to wish everyone health and prosperity for the new year.

Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on this last day of the year. (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Vincenzo da Filicaja, Italian poet; Theodor Fontane, German writer (Effi Briest); Heinrich Hart, German writer (Song of Humanity); Rudyard Kipling, English author (Jungle Book, Gunga Din-Nobel 1907); Georg von der Vring, German painter and writer (Soldier Suhren); Alfredo Bracchi, Italian author; Daniil Kharms [Yuvatchov], Russian surrealist and absurdist writer, poet, and playwright; Paul Bowles, writer (The Shelting Sky); Elyne Mitchell, Australian author; Sara A Lidman, Swedish author (Jag Och Min Son, Samtal in Hanoi); Patrick Bowles, American writer and translator; Richard Christ, writer; Glenda Adams, Australian author; Vladimir Bukovsky, Russian author and dissident; Lewis Shiner, American sci-fi/fantasy author; Somtow Sucharitkul [S. P. Somtow], Thai composer and sci-fi author (Utopia Hunters); Douglas Coupland, Canadian author; and Chandler Burr, American author.

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

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A special thank you to all who purchased copies of my books during the past year. Your support has been greatly appreciated and makes all the hard work worthwhile. Thank you!

This brings us to a close for this year and I’ll return again next Sunday with a full post. 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. Happy New Year!

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview with Author B. Douglas Slack

This week I’d like to introduce you to author B. Douglas Slack. He’s a self-published author began writing in grade school, encouraged my his mother who was a journalist. A U.S. Navy veteran, he retired as a First Class Petty Officer and served in Vietnam. Stationed mostly in the Far East, he spent three years in Japan which provided the spark for his first novel, You Only Love Twice.

He has been married for over fifty-four years. He’s led an exciting life, and has many skills out of the ordinary, such as: Alaskan dog team driving, Steam and diesel train driving and flying. He has called Ohio home for the last twenty-five years.

Let’s find out more about his writing journey.

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What are your ambitions for your writing career? I started my first novel about two years ago as a romantic short story. I kept adding and adding until it became a four-chapter story. Then I joined a writing site and published the chapters. I was encouraged to continue and make it a novel. In October of 2017, I published it under the title of You Only Love Twice. I had reached my first goal. My next goal is to write a trilogy. The first book is published as The Long Trek Home.

Which writers inspire you? In my very early years, before I became a teen, I picked up a Science Fiction book by Ray Bradbury and loved it. From then until my early twenties, I read mostly SF by the giants such as Arthur Clark, Robert Heinlein, Ursala K Le Guin, Larry Niven, and many more. On May 25, 1985 I met and talked with Isaac Asimov for over half an hour following a talk he gave about robotics. I’ve also met Hal Clement at a SF Convention.

So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) My first published book is titled You Only Love Twice. I then published The Long Trek Home. Over the years, I’ve written over fifty short stories, poems, and articles and published them on various writing sites for peer reviews.

51af8UBp5rLGive us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? The MC of You Only Love Twice is an interesting character as he is an American working in Tokyo, Japan of the 1980s. He speaks Japanese well and, on the train home from work meets a Japanese girl named Hiroko. He breaks traditions by speaking to her and ultimately inviting her to tea that afternoon. He is a master salesman for his firm as well as quite likeable, with many friends.

The MC in The Long Trek Home, which is set in a post-apocalyptic United States, has an innate ability to do the right thing whatever the circumstances might be. Not given a choice, he takes part in a killing in self-defense and flees west. He is an inventive person with many handy skills which help him and the woman he assists in escaping a slavery ring. Together, they beat the odds and ‘go home.’

What are you currently working on and what is it about? I am now working on the sequel to The Long Trek Home, which is the further saga of the two main characters in the first book. It is in the rough draft version and I hope to get it into shape by the end of the year.

What drew you to write in this genre? I really haven’t chosen a genre. The first book was a romantic adventure, yet the second was a much more gritty and down-to-earth fight for survival on a post-apocalyptic world.

How much research do you do? I research quite a bit for details necessary to bring a story alive. In some cases, I draw from personal experiences and memories. As they say, “Write what you know about.”

When did you decide to become a writer? When I was eleven, my mother gave me a blank journal. At the time, she was finishing a college degree in Journalism and the subject fascinated me. I began writing that very evening and haven’t really stopped yet—and I’m seventy-six now.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Being retired, I am able to write pretty much whenever I want to. I guess you would call this full-time.

How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? I try to write or at least do some editing every day. I spend on the average of twenty hours a week writing.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? No. I write until I reach a spot where I can take it up again the next session.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? I started longhand, moved to a typewriter, self-teaching myself to touch-type, then switched to a computer in the early seventies.

Where do the your ideas come from? Some from real life, some from my head, and some from my heart. I carry a little notepad in my hip pocket (a habit learned while in the Navy) and jot down every idea as it happens.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? My first book detailed the life of the main character and his wife as they lived it. I had a basic start and let it flow naturally to a conclusion. The second book was sketched out—on graph paper, actually—into a timeline for various events. Then I stitched the scenes together.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Editing. It is a horrible thing to spend an hour producing, say, 2,500 words and watch over half of it disappear when editing. Editing and grammar-checking take most of my time.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? It went very well, actually. The timeline I created worked by forcing me to pace the adventure and add flesh to the story structure. The hardest thing I faced was making the tension palpable throughout most of it.

What is the easiest thing about writing? The typing itself. I type at over 120 words-per-minute so I can rap out a thousand words in no time at all. I’ve worn out three keyboards over the last two years.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? The first one took about two and a half years. The second just seven months.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? Definitely. Whenever it strikes, I move on to my second passion: my virtual train program. I spend time building routes and running trains on them. It keep my interest long enough to flush ideas from the cobwebs.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors. I read voraciously. I always have a book with me in waiting rooms, at lunch, before I go to sleep, and most other times. Lately, I’ve been re-reading my military thrillers by W.E.B. Griffin, H. Jay Riker, and Tom Clancy. Woven between them is more lighthearted works by Stuart Woods and John Sandford.

Long Trek HomeFor your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? I wear trifocals, so reading an eBook on a tiny screen just isn’t for me. I much prefer paperbacks or hardbound books. My library as around four hundred books at present.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I proofread and edit them myself with the aid of software purchased for that task. Currently, I’m using ProWritingAid which I consider the best so far.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? Yes. You Only Love Twice went through three major editing sessions and a cooling-off period of two months before I did a final format and published it.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? Absolutely. Most people will look at a book cover first, so that’s the initial contact you have with a potential reader. If the cover is uninteresting, they won’t go any further.

How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both) I tried traditional by submitting to established publishers. I quit at fifty rejections and self-published through Kindle Publishing.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I like the freedom of self-publishing. By that, I mean I can fix typos or errors or touch up dialogue, upload a new file, and the next person who orders the book will get the changes. Amazon’s ‘publish-on-demand’ allows this.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? I would if I could afford one.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Get out there and talk about it. Self-publishing means you have to do all the work.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Not enough. I know I should do more, but can’t find the time.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? I take every review to heart. A bad review can point out something you never considered such as a plot hole, or a bad reference, or even worse, a wrong attribution.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? It isn’t strictly about marketing, but I gave several copies of my first book to the local library. They put it on a ‘local author’ shelf and began lending it. I was standing in front of the checkout desk one afternoon and a woman came up to me and asked if I was B. Douglas Slack. When I replied I was, she thrust a piece of paper at me and asked for my autograph. My very first. She’d recognized me from my photo on the back of the book.

What’s your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you? I deal poorly with social media. Facebook is about the only one I am on with any regularity. I don’t tweet, or any of the other texting services.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing? I advised a budding writer on a writing site not to overstep the boundary between what he knew about and what he didn’t. If you don’t know what you’re writing about, it will come off a fake and uninteresting. Write what you know.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? I created an account there, but somehow it ended up getting closed. I never could find out why.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? I tell all my neighbors when my books are published. They almost always order one and have me sign it.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? Can’t think of any. I’m sure I did, though.

What do you think of “trailers” for books, and do you have a trailer/will you create one for your own work? Mixed feelings about trailers. They’re more for films than books. Any trailer I can come up with usually ends up on the back of the book as a teaser.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why? I give away books occasionally, mostly to libraries in the area. They love to put them on shelves set aside for local authors.

How do you relax? I’ve been working with computers for over fifty years. To relax, I spend time creating web sites, programming, or building a computer. It takes most of your mind to do this and that eases writer’s block handily.

What is your favorite motivational phrase? Write it down.

What is your favorite quote? “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” TANSTAAFL, popularized by Robert Heinlein in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, a book I’ve read and reread many times.

What is your favorite movie and why? Tough choice. Most any movie with Cary Grant. I grew up watching his cool take on life. He was a master at comedy (“Father Goose” comes to mind) as well as drama (“Mr. Lucky”).

What advice would you give to your younger self? Very little, as I would be unlikely to take it anyhow. I left college and enlisted in the Navy before Vietnam heated up, yet spent five tours in the war zone. I might tell myself to ease up on the volunteering. I wouldn’t trade the twenty years I spent in the service for anything. I speak a smattering of ten or twelve languages, I’ve been on all continents, I’ve lived in many foreign countries, and loved every minute of it. One daughter was born in the Philippines, the other in Japan, so they have a itchy foot as well.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? I met one famous person already, President John Kennedy. He stopped at the Naval facility at Lajes AB, Azores on his way to visit the Pope. He spent an hour in the Operations building with a dozen of my watchstanders while waiting for a classified message to arrive over our circuits. A very personable man, and the first president I was able to vote for.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Keep trying. No matter what, keep trying.

Where do you see publishing going in the future? I fear it is going become electronic and print publications will fall by the wayside.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse? Yes.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content? Sticking to some form of plot. I tend to go wandering off the path and delving into side-issues. When I catch myself doing it, I have to delete chunks of typing and start over.

Did you come across any specific challenges in writing The Long Trek Home? What would you do differently the next time? Of particular challenge was projecting the current socio-political climate into a post-apocalyptic world. How would a person cope when oil suddenly stopped flowing following a nuclear event in the Middle East? How would anyone deal with oceans rising from the striking of the sun by an anti-matter moon and causing a huge solar flare lasting for years? Coastlines changed, economy’s crashed, civil disturbances become a daily occurrence, and mob rule become the norm.

What do your fans mean to you? Everything. At my age, I love them to pieces.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you? On my tenth birthday, my mother handed me The Rolling Stones, a science fiction book by Robert Heinlein which was first serialized in Boy’s Life (A Boy Scout magazine). I loved it and checked out several more by him. When I ran out of Heinlein, I moved on to the other greats like Asimov, Phillip K. Dick, Keith Laumer, Hal Clements, and the rest of classical SF authors.

What motivated you to become an indie author? Fifty rejection notices will do a wonderful job on your ego and motivate the heck out of you to publish on your own.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? I wrote one called “I was a Dispatcher for Ten Minutes” when I was twelve. It told a story of a young railroad telegrapher who had to make a decision to let a train pass his station in the absence of the regular dispatcher. I received a “B” on it.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? I try to create worksheets on my major characters. Birthdates, general descriptions, likes, dislikes, habits (good or otherwise), and other useful information. I refer to these sheets all the time.

Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas. I flip through the journals I’ve kept through my life starting at age eleven when I received my first blank journal from my mother. I get ideas all the time from having my memory jogged by an event in them. At other times, things seem to pop into my head and are captured on the pad I keep in my back pocket.

Where is your favorite place to write? In my computer room.

What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors? I’m not an aggressive marketer of my own works. I talk it up every chance I get, give away books to neighbors, and generally make it known I’ve written a book, but I don’t hit social media hard. I’m a hobby writer who has found publishing to be fun. I’m seventy-six now and hope to keep publishing until I’m not around any more.

That’s all for this week. Check out Mr. Slack’s work when you have a chance. Join me again next week for another author interview!

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview With Author Marie Lavender

Marie Lavender banner - Facebook

This week, I’d like to introduce you to author Marie Lavender. She lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published twenty-four books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several anthologies. Her current published series are: The Heiresses in Love, The Eternal Hearts, The Magick, The Code of Endhivar and The Blood at First Sight.

Marie Lavender LogoSo, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.)

I wrote the Heiresses in Love Series (a Victorian romance trilogy), as well as some of the books in The Magick Series (lighthearted fantasy), Blood at First Sight Series (paranormal romance) and The Code of Endhivar Series (science fiction romance). All of them were released through Solstice Publishing. Besides that, I have standalone works. I have been writing since the age of nine, but I’ve only been published since 2010.

I host three blogs: Writing in the Modern Age, the I Love Romance Blog, and the MLB blog. With two of those, I often blog about the titles of other authors and accept guest posts.

One of my recent writing accolades is the fact that I reached the TOP 20 Authors of 2018 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog.

What are you currently working on and what is it about?

I am working on a romantic comedy that lightly covers the topic of body-shaming. I think it’s important that we realize how much damage it can cause to our self-esteem. Approaching it in a more comical fashion might take some of the dramatic edge off the problem while still getting the point across. Anyway, it’s something I’m trying out.

What drew you to write in this genre? Blood Instincts - eBook Cover - Marie Lavender

I’ve always been drawn to romance novels, both as a reader and a writer. But now and then, the muse really surprises me. That’s why I label myself multi-genre, since I published a children’s fantasy a few years ago, and some of my works in progress include mysteries, psychological thrillers, dystopian and time travel tales, even horror.

How much research do you do?

I do what is necessary, but I also go a bit beyond that. I don’t want to bog the story down in details, yet I try to aim for authenticity.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

A little of both, actually. I let the muse take me to a point, and then when I get stuck I write a full outline and try to fill in some of the blanks to bring focus back to the story.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

Blood Instincts is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy with a futuristic angle. I guess I struggled with the time difference between book one and two. But once I figured out the reason for it, the story just fit.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Tough question. It usually depends on the book I’m working on. Some take longer than others, especially if they’re more detailed and part of a series. A regular novel often takes a year to write. But historicals take a lot of time, since I do extra research.

BLOOD INSTINCTS promo9For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

I am still a bit of a Luddite in that sense. I like the accessibility of an ebook, but I prefer a physical format over anything else. I love paperback because it’s more compact on the shelf, but hardback is one version I’ll always have a lot of respect for. I think that’s because it makes me think of the times when I used to hang out at the library and comb through the stacks, worshipping the spine of each title. What can I say? I’m a total book nerd!

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

I will never send my work out into the world unedited, at least on some level. I keep it really close to the vest until there have been numerous passes at it. I edit my own book as much as I can, then I hand the manuscript over to a trusted proofreader and some beta readers. After it’s as clean as possible, my publisher has the book and they assign their own editors.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

A month is preferable, but on a time crunch? I’ll let it sit for at least two weeks before looking at it from a different angle. You don’t want to be too in love with your own story.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Oh, yes! It is essential to help potential readers make a decision. Not that the blurb isn’t also important; it certainly is, but I think a lot of factors go into the buying method, a great cover being imperative to the whole. Yet with certain publishers, authors have very little control over the cover.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing?

Listen to your characters. Don’t plan it all out so much that you can’t keep an open mind for a few surprises.

What do you think of “trailers” for books, and do you have a trailer/will you create one for your own work?

I think they’re helpful as a sales tool for readers. They offer a glimpse into the book without giving too much away. I make a book trailer for every release. You can discover them all on my YouTube channel.

BLOOD INSTINCTS promo1BWhat is your favorite quote?

This one both thrills and inspires me as a writer. Natalie Goldberg said, “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”

I think it is apropos for the situation. With the act of writing, we delve so deeply into our inner selves, and it can be a little terrifying at first. But it always results in something magical.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Some of both. It can feel like a gift most of the time, this rampant need inside to express yourself, to go out and tell your characters’ stories. But now and then, when the muse isn’t working with you, or whenever the outside world doesn’t understand you as a writer, a dark cloud comes over your rainbow.

Marie’s accolades include: Reached the Top 10 Authors list on AuthorsDB.com for the last 3 years. TOP 20 Authors of 2018 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated and made it past the first round in the 2018 Author Academy Awards. UPON YOUR LOVE and THE MISSING PIECE placed in the TOP 10 on the 2017 P&E Readers’ Poll. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated for the 2017 Reader’s Choice Awards. The I Love Romance Blog became a finalist in StartDating DK’s Romance Blog Awards of 2017. ILRB landed on Feedspot’s 2017 TOP 100 Novel Blogs and TOP 100 Romance Blogs. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART placed in the TOP 10 Books of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. Mystery Blogger Award for 2017. A to Z Blog Challenge Survivor in 2016. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013, 2014 and 2016. 2013 and 2014 Amazon Bestseller Ranking for UPON YOUR RETURN. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

You can find out more about Marie’s work and follow her progress via the following:

Official Website: http://marielavender.com/Blogs: http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/
http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/
http://marielavender.blogspot.com/
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58
https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender
https://twitter.com/marielavender1
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarieLavender/posts
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a

Stay tuned for another author interview shortly!

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, September 2, 2018

For those living in the United States and Canada, Happy Labor/Labour Day! Do you know the origins of what is considered the unofficial end of summer? A day set aside to honor the labor movement, in 1887, Oregon was the first state to recognize a day for the workforce. There was a push by labor unions for eight-hour work days. By the time Labor Day was recognized as a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states had already made it an official holiday.

The origins of Labour Day in Canada go back to 1872, when a parade was held in Toronto to support a union strike for a 58-hour work week. It became an official holiday in 1894. Many of the traditions associated with the day are similar in both countries.

Anyone celebrating a birthday today? If so, you’re in good company with the following people associated with the writing world, compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

William Somervile, English poet; Caroline von Schelling, [Michaelis], German author; Esteban Echeverría, Argentine writer; Henry George, land reformer/writer (Progress & Poverty); Giovanni Verga, Italian writer (Eros); Eugene Field, author/journalist (Little Boy Blue); Paul Bourget, French novelist and critic; Hans Jæger, Norwegian writer and political activist; Joseph Roth, Austrian journalist/writer (Hotel Savoy); Andreas Embirikos, Greek surrealist poet; Johan Daisne, [Herman Thiery], Belgian writer (magic realism); Allen Drury, author (Advise & Consent-1960 Pulitzer Prize); Peter Mansfield, British political journalist and author; John S. Hall, American poet and spoken-word artist; Jon Berkeley, author and illustrator; and Chris Kuzneski, American bestselling author.

Recognize anyone? I did, but not as many as in some weeks. Even if you didn’t spot any familiar names, I hope you have a great birthday and many more to follow.

News About My Published Work

Dangerous Alliance-001

My second novel, Dangerous Alliance, will be released soon by Solstice Publishing. This week, I received the manuscript back from the editor and we are collaborating on a variety of small changes.  Stay tuned for more information about its release!

United Nations’ sanctions are crippling North Korea. China has turned her back on her malevolent partner. The North Korean military machine is crumbling, unable to function. Oil reserves are minimal and the government seeks new alliances.

Cargo ships are disappearing along the Somali and Kenyan coastline at an alarming rate. Speeches abound, but inaction emboldens al-Shabab to seek their next prize: Kenya. The terror organization controls land but requires weapons.

Bedlam Bravo team leader Colonel Trevor Franklin (Ret.) leads the small international team into East Africa. Tempers flare as the team is embroiled in a political quagmire. The axis must be stopped to avert an international crisis but at what cost?

My Work in Progress

With the editing work on Dangerous Alliance and a myriad of external requirements, work on Carnage in Singapore took a backseat this week. I did spend a bit of time on the next chapter, but decided another chapter was needed first to bring readers up-to-date with the activities of two characters.

Books I’m Reading

I recently read Ernest Dempsey’s The Norse Directive: A Sean Wyatt Archaeological Thriller (Sean Wyatt Adventure Book 5). As with the first four novels in the series, we once again meet up with Sean Wyatt and his longtime friend, Tommy Schultz. In search of a relic deemed to be an ancient weapon, the duo battle wits with a Frenchman who is also seeking this item.

As with all of Mr. Dempsey’s novels, this is another action-packed thriller, filled with realistic characters and plenty of twists and turns. Once again Sean and Tommy have taken be on a whirlwind ride, visiting numerous countries and encountering one obstacle after another. Who will recover the prize? That would be telling—but you won’t be disappointed in this story. I look forward to Book 6!

Blogs/Author Pages/Writing Sites I’d Like to Share

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but will also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. While I spent hours reading through various links doing research and preparing to post my interview with author Preston Holtry (posted earlier this morning), I didn’t have time to find anything to include here.

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 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings, Uncategorized

Randall’s Ramblings, August 19, 2018

As summer winds down, families are doing their final thrills with their kids before they head back to school. Stores are pushing ‘back to school’ sales. At least Mother Nature keeps reminding us it’s summer, with plenty of heat, humidity, and showers (and sometimes, thunderstorms). We also began today with fog!

Anyone out there celebrating a birthday today? Here’s a few people from the writing world who share today with you. (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Marqués de Santillana, Castilian politician and poet (serranillas); Lodovico Guicciardini, Italian historian (Descrittione di Tutti); Paulus Merula, Dutch lawyer and historian (Historia Belgica); John Dryden, English poet (1st Poet Laureate 1668-1700); Eustace Budgell, English writer; Samuel Richardson, English novelist (Pamela); Pierre-Jean de Béranger, French poet and songwriter; Arnoldt Bronnen, writer; Ogden Nash, humorous poet (I’m a Stranger Here Myself); James Gould Cozzens, American novelist (1949 Pulitzer-Guard of Honor); Jerzy Andrzejewski, Polish writer (Ashes & Diamonds); Quentin Bell, artist, author/teacher; Ring Lardner Jr, American journalist and screenwriter (Woman of the Year, M A S H);  Malcom Forbes, American publisher of Forbes Magazine; D[avid] G[uy] Compton, UK, sci-fi author (Synthajoy, Radio Plays); Bodil Malmsten, Swedish writer; Jennie Bond, British journalist; and Li-Young Lee, Indonesia-born American poet.

Recognize anyone? I certainly did. Even if you didn’t spot any familiar names, I hope you have a great birthday and many more.

My Work in Progress

Once again external pressures meant I had to forego my normal writing periods this week. However, I still managed to complete and post another chapter of Carnage in Singapore. I also refined my outline to reflect recent changes in how some chapters are plotted.

Despite my unplanned slowdown, reviewers added another nineteen chapter reviews, bringing the total to 313. Here a bit more from Carnage in Singapore:

“Please take a seat.” A secretary gestured toward several chairs. “Mr. Robertson will be with you in a few minutes.”

Before Evelyn skipped through the ads in a magazine to the first article, the inner office door opened. Framed in the doorway stood a tall, gray-haired man. His chiseled jawline and deep brown eyes commanded attention.

Harrison Robertson, the Director-General of Security for ASIO, stepped forward, his arm outstretched, a grin plastered on his face. “Lady Evelyn, thank you for stopping by.”

“Please, Harrison, drop the title. Given my background and the Australian culture, it doesn’t fit.”

Harrison chuckled. “Come in.” He leaned toward his secretary. “Margaret, would you rustle up a pot of tea and biscuits? Thank you.”

Evelyn and Harrison entered his austere office. An immense oak desk, devoid of papers but holding three telephones and an Apple computer, stood in front of the windows. A safe in the corner, three easy chairs, a coffee table, and photographs of beach scenes completed the furnishings.

***

“How is your hip? I spotted a slight limp.” Harrison handed a cup to Evelyn and offered her the biscuits.

She nibbled on a Tim Tam. “The doctors say the limp might remain forever but is less noticeable every week. The joint is healthy—they believe some nerves might be damaged beyond repair.”

Harrison nodded. “Good to hear the joint is sound. How is your new team shaping up? I suspect it won’t be long before there’s a suitable mission for you.”

“Alfie—how he hates his nickname—is running them through their paces at our training facility. We’re ready for whatever you throw at us.”

“Excellent.” He nodded. “Islamic State affiliates are popping up around the world. I think Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah still pose significant threats in our region. With the apparent death of Abu Sayyaf’s leader, I fear AS will be more dangerous than ever.”

***

Evelyn entered her office. About the size of a standard living room, a red cedar desk and chair, two five-drawer safes, and four easy chairs crammed the space. On the wall opposite her desk, two photographs.

One was of the Queen. She walked over to the other one and read the inscription.

Lady Evelyn,

Thank you for your endeavors in retrieving me from a rather sticky situation. I shall assist you whenever it’s possible. George.

At her desk, she booted her computer and thought about her previous mission to recover Prince George. Never would have thought my crowning achievement with MI6 was to serve in a liaison role with a Somali terrorist. Now, I’m running my own covert team.

Perhaps more next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading several novels in the Sean Wyatt series by Ernest Dempsey and one by Nick Thacker.

Mark for Blood (Mason Dixon Thrillers Book 1) by Nick Thacker was a riveting story. Bartender Mason Dixon has a secret—an on-demand secondary job, which leaves victims out in the cold. Assisted by his short-order cook and occasional fill-in bartender, they take care of the latest mark. Except there was a problem. The person didn’t provide the standard token confirming their identity. Troubles abound as Mason becomes a target himself—who is after him?

This is the first novel by Nick that I’ve read and I guarantee it won’t be the last. With excellent characters, a laid-back manner of presenting the plot, and twists and turns galore, this is an excellent thriller!

The Last Chamber by Ernest Dempsey was set up by the first two novels in the Sean Wyatt series. Sean, along with his long-time friend Tommy Schultz, set out on their continuing quest to find the Lost Chambers. Danger lurks around every corner as they are joined by Adriana Villa, something of an enigma in her own way.  Join the as the trail lead to the Caucasus Mountains not far from Armenia as they seek a treasure thought to be hidden forever.

Just when I think I’ve been there before, Ernest adds a new twist or additional characters pop up to take the story on a separate tangent. His life-like characters, attention to detail, and superb blend of historical facts and his splendid plots means I’m always in for a treat. Highly recommended for action-adventure thriller seekers!

The Grecian Manifesto, also by Ernest Dempsey, takes us on a new adventure with Sean Wyatt and his sidekick, Tommy Shultz. Adriana Villa goes missing during her search for the Eye of Zeus and the President of the United States requests Sean’s help to find her.

However, an unknown player also seeks the Eye of Zeus and doesn’t seem to care whether Europe and the rest of the world falls into economic ruin. Will Sean and Tommy locate Adriana and recover the ancient device in time?  With new thrills on almost every page, this story will delight those who love non-stop action. I can’t say enough about Ernest’s ability to create fast-paced scenes carried out by believable characters stuck in impossible situations. Grab a copy and find out what it’s all about!

An Interview With ???

This is a new section for my blog where I’ll be interviewing various authors I’ve recently read. I hope to have the first interview posted next Sunday or the following week.

Blogs/Author Pages/Writing Sites I’d Like to Share

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but will also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. Unfortunately, I ran out of time this week and didn’t come across anything new to share.

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 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved