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

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

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

Excerpt (from chapter one):

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

Everything I thought was no longer my reality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I shook my head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Juliet nodded and sipped her red.

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

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

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

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

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

“Who is it?” Kirtus asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe he did. I couldn’t be sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Of course.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pick up a copy at the following:

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

About The Author:

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

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

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

© Copyright 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

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

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 4, 2021

For those who recognize today as Easter, Happy Easter! For those who don’t have a super Sunday!

The weather’s been crazy this week. While there’s been plenty of sunshine, the thermometer is going in the wrong direction. The past three mornings we’ve either had frost or heavy dew. Up to two inches of snow is forecast beginning tonight through tomorrow afternoon, with more flurries throughout the week. What happened to ‘April shows bring May flowers?’ I just hope the spring plants survive the week!

On another front, the Covid lockdown is starting to ease, with the stay at home order rescinded. It’s been replaces by a stay local mandate for the next three weeks. A variety of facilities will open tomorrow, including garden centres (nurseries), homeware stores, auto dealerships, hairdressers, and barbers. Hopefully, things will continue to improve.

“Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you have ever imagined.” (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 April 4th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays

William Strachey, English writer (early history of the English colonisation of North America); Bettina von Arnim, German writer and composer of the Romantic era (This Book Belongs to the King); Thomas Mayne Reid, Irish-American novelist (The Headless Horseman); Margaret Oliphant, Scottish novelist and biographer (Beleaguered City); Comte de Lautréamont, French writer (Les Chants de Maldoror); Remy de Gourmont, French poet; George P Baker, American educator and playwright (47 Workshop); Charles Earle Funk, American lexicographer (Funk & Wagnalls); Zdzisław Żygulski, Sr., Polish literary historian; Tristan Tzara [Samuel Rosenfeld] Romanian-French poet (Approximate Man); Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin, French poet and author (Lutin Sauvage); Stanley G. Weinbaum, American sci-fi author (Martian Odyssey); Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, American author (Cheaper by the Dozen); Jerome Weidman, American writer (Tenderloin); Marguerite Duras, French novelist and playwright (Sea Wall); Jan Drda, Czech writer (Nema Barikada, Mestecko Na Dlani); Lars Ahlin, Swedish writer (My Death is My Own); Emmett Williams, American poet; Maya Angelou [Marguerite Johnson], American author (“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”), poet and actress (Nyo-Roots); Trevor Griffiths, English playwright (Absolute Beginners); Ian St James, novelist (Balfour Conspiracy, Vengeance, Money Stones); Kitty Kelley, American journalist and author (Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra); Dan Simmons, American sci-fi and horror writer (Song of Kali); David E. Kelley, American writer and TV producer (Picket Fences, Chicago Hope); and Cazuza, Brazilian poet, singer and composer.

Were any names familiar to you? I found two: Charles Earle Funk, Maya Angelou.  Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Published Work

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

My Work in Progress

While I did spend some time outdoors this week when the weather permitted, I also managed to complete another chapter of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Last week, I mentioned I had completed chapter twenty-seven. That was a bit premature, as it was chapter twenty-six. However, the next chapter had now been completed and posted to the two online subscription writing sites I use. Over the past week, there were another eleven new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 429. Plenty of useful suggestions as always to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

A woman stirred from a fetal position on the concrete floor. She raised her head, and an eye eased open. Dim light emanated from a solitary fixture on the ceiling at the bottom of a set of stairs. Faint footsteps came from above.

She pushed himself to a kneeling position on a rug spread underneath her. A whimper escaped from swollen lips. She touched her face. Dried blood crusted her upper lip.

“Help.” The woman gasped. “Please. Someone. Help. Me.”

She collapsed.

* * *

Heidi awoke to darkness. Something scurried across the floor. A blanket was draped over her. She felt around—still clothed. She passed out again.

* * *

After she regained consciousness, the same dim light cast eerie shadows around the room. Next to her, a bottle of water and a sandwich wrapped in plastic.

She drank half of the lukewarm water. She wet her fingers and dabbed around her nose and mouth to rinse off the dried blood. Voices in the distance—strange, yet familiar.

Heidi pulled the sandwich from the bag and sniffed. “Ugh—I hate peanut butter.”

Her stomach growled in response.

She nibbled along the edge of the bread to minimize eating the filling, turning the sandwich as she progressed. When she finished, Heidi drained the remainder of the water and lay back down on the rug.

Tears trickled down her face.

***

The door at the top of the stairs banged open. A second light popped on, illuminating Heidi’s prison. Footsteps rushed down the steps.

“Get up!” Someone wearing a clown mask kicked Heidi in the ribs.

She groaned, grabbing her side. “Stop! Please stop! Why are you doing this to me?”

“I want information about your boss—you will tell me everything, or you’ll be sorry.”

Heidi struggled to a sitting position and stared at the man. “My boss is married—has three kids. I—”

More next time.

I recently finished Ancients: An Event Group Thriller by David L. Golemon. What’s causing earthquakes around the world at an alarming rate? Will the brainy people at the Event Group, be able to identify the source and put a stop to the chaos before the world is destroyed? How does the fabled city of Atlantis feature in the story? 

David’s plot is thrilling and will keep you turning the pages until you find out the answers. For those who are particular about accuracy, things like private first corporal (PFC) might throw you for a loop, but it’s still an exciting read. I look forward to reading more of David’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 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

Anyone familiar to you? I’m sure most people have heard of Ben Franklin and Anne Bronte. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

Coming Soon!

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Work in Progress

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

Here’s this week’s snippet:

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

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

Javier glanced up as someone approached.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AJ nodded. “The usual.”

“Comin’ up.”

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

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

“Let me see.”

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

Receptionist

Logistics expert

Computer whiz

Research analysts (2)

Private investigators or applicable military specialties (6)

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

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

“Who?”

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

Perhaps more next time.

Books I’m Reading

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

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

That’s all for this week. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Meet The Author Gang

With the current situation keeping people from external pursuits, why not reach out and make some new friends through reading?

Author friends who write alone but come together from time to time to help each other and have fun.

Our stories will make you wonder, laugh, shake with fear or shed a few tears, but most of all, give you escape from the burdens of everyday life. Check out our books and find yourself whisked away to lands and places you’ve never been.

The Author Gang:

Erika M Szabo

https://www.authorerikamszabo.com

“The writing bug bit me on a rainy afternoon when I couldn’t find any new book to read. My daughter had enough of my moping around and snapped at me, “Mom, stop whining! If you haven’t a book to read, then write one.” Her challenge shocked me, but I started playing with the idea and I’ve been writing stories, that I like to read, ever since.”

Erika loves to dance to her own tunes and follow her dreams, introduces her story writing skills and her books that are based on creative imagination with themes such as alternate history, urban fantasy, cozy mystery, sweet romance and supernatural stories. Her children’s stories are informative, educational, and deliver moral values in a non-preachy way.

“I followed my dream to become a writer. As an artist, I paint pretty pictures with my brushes, and as a writer, I paint vivid pictures with my words.”

Cindy J. Smith

https://cindysvoices.blogspot.com/

I was taught if I couldn’t say anything nice don’t say anything. Since biting my tongue was painful and soap tasted bad, I developed voices arguing inside my head. When I found writing my thoughts brought me some silence, I took up the pen. It was not long before I realized poetry was much easier than full sentences and I could say exactly what was in my heart.

Strangely, I soon noticed I could put myself in other’s shoes and empathize with their viewpoint.

It was my daughter who encouraged me to share my poems. She believed they would help others cope…letting them know they were not alone in their thoughts.

I write now about every aspect of life in hopes someone may be touched and be encouraged to keep trying.

Christina Weigand

http://www.weigandchris.com/

A writer, wife, and mother of four grown children. She is also Nana to five granddaughters. She lives with her husband and youngest daughter in Pennsylvania after a short sabbatical in the lovely state of Washington. She has three published YA Christian Fantasy novels; Palace of the Twelve Pillars: Book One, Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two and Sanctuary of Nine Dragons: Book Three. She also has a woman’s Bible study Women of the Bible: A Study published. Recently the first two books in a MG Fantasy series were published, Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully and Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective with the remaining four to be published the near future. Through her writing she strives to share the Word of God and help people young and old to realize the love and mercy He has for everyone.

Darlene Deluca

https://www.darlenedeluca.com/

“Books . . . chocolate . . . tea. These are a few of my favorite things. Combine them with a sunny summer day, and perhaps a beach or pool, and call me happy!”

Deluca writes women’s fiction, contemporary romance, and mainstream fiction with romantic elements. She likes to explore relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart. Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two), and big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave you either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile as you turn the final page.

And just so you know . . . she likes a happy, or at least a positive, ending.

Alan Zacher

https://www.amazon.com/Alan-Zacher/e/B00APQXPEW

Author of private investigator mysteries, humorous occult fiction, fantasy adventure fiction, and short stories. After many years of being a “struggling” actor in LA, Alan turned to writing.

“My writing has always been for entertainment–to put a smile on someone’s face who might be having a bad day. I write, mostly, light-horror and murder/mystery. I like these two genres because of the freedom they give me to explore man’s inner emotions, feelings and emotions–but it must always have humor! We must always laugh; mostly at ourselves. I have had MS for serval years now; I know physical and mental pain; so I need much laughter to endure it. Hopefully, my novels do just that–give you much laughter.”

Carol Ann Kauffman

https://visionandverse.blogspot.com/

Carol Ann’s books range from short stories to full-length novels. Her novels are classified as romantic action adventures with a sci-fi/ fantasy twist, and mysteries. They’re about life, love, loss, and lunacy. She is a retired teacher. She has worked as a printer, managed a department store office, worked as an insurance agent, and in the hardware and automotive industries. She was a Red Cross volunteer.

Carol loves to travel; her favorite places being Italy, Aruba, and the American Southwest, which tend to show up in her novels.

“I also love to stay home. I get lost in my own little world, where I always have more than a few stories in progress. I grow orchids and African violets, and still like to play in the dirt!”

Suzi Albracht

https://www.amazon.com/Suzi-Albracht/e/B00PB1JNLK/

I am the author of Supernatural Horror Crime Thrillers and Paranormal Romance/Ghost novels. My characters have full, normal lives that get twisted into something horrific or intensely strange. Whether they become a ghost and discover a new, undead world to roam or find themselves in pursuit of a dangerous madman with connections to the dark underworld, I want my readers to feel their pain, their joy, their fear… with every right or wrong turn they take along the way.

While I humbly submit that my main influences are Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and William Faulkner, my style leans closer to that of early Stephen King. My twitter bio describes me to a T – Write, scare myself, turn all the lights on, write some more. Take a break, play pool, kick butt/get butt kicked, go write more horror, double lock door.

You can find my books at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

Randall Krzak

http://www.randallkrzak.com

A U.S. Army veteran and retired senior civil servant, spending thirty years in Europe, Africa, Central America, and the Middle East. His residency abroad qualifies him to build rich worlds in his action-adventure novels and short stories. Familiar with customs, laws, and social norms, he promotes these to create authentic characters and scenery.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and two master’s from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. Randall and his Scottish wife, Sylvia, currently reside in Dunfermline, Scotland. His hobbies include hiking, reading, candle making, pyrography, and sightseeing.

Why did Randall become a writer? Someone suggested he give it a try, so Randall blames his friend. Randall ventured into fiction writing later in life, with his first novel being released at age 62. In just over three years, he’s published four novels. He enjoys reading and writing global thrillers and has three more underway.

Rebecca Tran

https://rtranbooks.net/

I am a mother, pharmacist and author. I love all things fantasy and sci-fi. Romance is always a welcome bonus. I have two little girls and I love dogs,I have two of those as well, a Boston Terrier and a Pittie mix. So technically some would say I have four kids. I am currently working on my blog as well as my romance and fantasy series. I am the ultimate nerd who can’t choose between Star Wars and Star Trek and thinks that Dr Who would figure out a way to beat all of them. I still read comic books and love watching anime. We can talk for hours if you know who Kirito, Naruto, or Goku are. If you’d like to read my blog or know more about me or my books, please check out my website.

A.L. Butcher

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/

British-born A. L. Butcher is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as ‘evocative’. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.

Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror, including the Legacy of the Mask series. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.

L.L. Thomsen

https://llthomsen.com/

Pick up one of L. L. Thomsen’s high fantasy books and you get treated to an explosion of immersive prose, complicated characters, mystery and plots. Her main world, Dallancea, is home to nine realms and a wealth of races – some known, some entirely new. You do not have to be familiar with fantasy to enjoy the books, but those who are will recognise her zest to spin you an epic tale of complexity and to explore her characters to the core.

“I invented my first character when I was around five years old,” L. L. laughs, “they lived in my head and took me on adventures at bedtime after ‘lights out’. These days I allow them onto paper. There’s not enough space in my head anymore.”

L. L. currently lives with her family + two cats and a dog, in the back-of-beyond near the Sherwood Forrest, U.K.

PJ Mann

https://pjmannauthor.com/

My name is Paula and I write novels. I live with my husband and a rabbit. I work as an engineering geologist at a construction firm in Finland, and only in my spare time, I sit down at my desk writing stories. You can consider me a sort of wandering writer, and I try, as much as possible, to be on the move. My stories are strongly influenced by what I experience and see during my travels around the world. I am a multi-genre author, but the red wire of my novels is the suspense/drama.

I love to walk in nature with my camera; photography is another of my passions. I believe it’s very closely connected to writing novels as every image tells a story, for those who stop to listen.

 

R.M. Garino

https://www.rmgarino.com/

How now, folks. I’m R.M. Garino, the author of the Chaos of Souls Series. Ever wish you could bring your D&D characters to life? Well, that’s exactly what we did. Although the overarching story of angels and demons is much older, our two main characters were fleshed out from a D&D game my wife and I played with friends ages ago. They’re introduced, along with their misfit squads, in The Gates of Golorath, and their adventures continue throughout the series. We’ve also released a standalone series, the Chaos of Souls Novellas, which capture separate side stories that enrich the main series. Requiem’s Reach is the first volume, and we continue from there. If you’re looking for a thoughtful, somewhat irreverent fantasy that puts the stories and character first, then come on over and give us a read.

 

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, February 9, 2020

Heavy winds and lashing rain hit us last night. It went on for hours, making it difficult to hear the television with the constant beating on the conservatory roof next to the living room.

While it calm at the moment, the sky is laden with thick, dark clouds. The upcoming projection is for continued rain and gusting wind up 60 MPH throughout the day, with that dreaded white stuff due to hit us between Monday and Wednesday. If the forecast is accurate, we’ll only receive a dusting but the higher elevations could see as much as eight inches!

With trees, bushes, and shrubs beginning to bud, and early flowers starting to pop out, we certainly don’t need any of this. Mother Nature has been kind to us so far this winter, with just a few flurries one evening, but she might have more in store for us yet!

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on February 9th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Ali Sjir Neva’i [Fani], Turkish poet/author (Mahbub al-kulub); Vasily Zhukovsky, Russian poet; Felix Dahn, German Historian, jurist and poet; Anthony Hope [Hopkins], English novelist; George Ade, American journalist/playwright/humorist (Fables in Slang); Fran Saleški Finžgar, Slovene folk writer (Our Blood, Service Girls); Amy Lowell, American poet and critic (Patterns, Sword Blades & Poppy Seed); Frederik Gerretson, [Geerten Gossaert], Dutch poet/politician); Vital Celen, Flemish writer (Puppy Love); Max Manus, Norwegian resistance fighter and author who specialized in sabotage during World War II; Charles Montgomery Monteith, publisher; Brendan Behan, Irish author and poet (Borstal Boy, The Hostage); J.M. Coetzee, South African novelist; Alice Walker, American novelist (The Color Purple, Meridian); and Janet Issaca Ashford, writer.

Recognize anyone? There was only one notable name for me this week: Alice Walker, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple, also became a movie. 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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Both of these novels will be participating in an Amazon Countdown Special on Valentine’s Day starting at 12:00 a.m. PST. They’ll start $0.99 and gradually increasing in price, returning to normal on February 16th at 11:00 p.m. PST. If you haven’t read them yet, what better time to pick up a copy or gift them to someone you know.

As previously mentioned, Dangerous Alliance was one of seven First in Category winners in the 2018 Chanticleer International Book Awards in the global thrillers category. Meanwhile, Carnage in Singapore is currently a semi-finalist in the 2019 competition, with the final results due in late April. Hope you’ll check them out!

My Work in Progress

Editing continues on Colombian Betrayal (A Bruce and Smith Thriller: Book 1), which was previously called A Cartel’s Revenge in earlier posts. The name change came about after receiving feedback from my team of beta readers.

The fifth edit pass was completed last night–a few word changes and some adjustments to the punctuation. Once the last couple of beta readers provide their comments, I’ll update the manuscript as needed and begin the final edit pass.

I have a bit of a conundrum–what to work on next? Should it be Ultimate Escalation, the next novel after Carnage in Singapore? Or should it be Genesis (tentative title), the sequel to Colombian Betrayal? What about New World Revolution: A New Home or Xavier Sears:  Angola?  Both of these are the first novels in their respective series.

See what I mean? I’ll eventually sort it out, I’m sure.  In the meantime, here’s another snippet from Colombian Betrayal:

At last, the final condemned man was brought to the table to choose his weapons. He fingered the remaining knives and one of the pistols before falling to his knees. “Please. Forgive me. My family—they won’t survive without me.”

Días kicked the man in the side. “Quit sniveling and take your punishment like a man. Grab a weapon and run.”

Dejected, the man stood and walked away, his head hung low.

The last team leader glanced at his men. They each gave a slight nod before they strolled after their target.

With the slow pursuit, the prisoner approached the fence unharmed. He glanced around—no one. He placed a foot on the first plank and began to climb.

Snap!

His head jerked around at the sound of a branch breaking.

Five men stepped from the trees, their weapons by their sides.

The team leader stepped forward and motioned for the man to continue climbing.

“Why would you let me go?” He made the sign of the cross. “Are you Christians?”

“No. However, you were the only prisoner to mention a family. We do this for them, not you.”

* * * *

When the last team returned to the hacienda, Días glared at them. “We heard no shots. Where is the prisoner?”

The team leader shook his head. “He was too fast for us and was over the fence when we arrived.” He shrugged. “You said any prisoner who made it over the barrier was free.”

“I-I ….” Días’ face turned purple with rage. “I wanted them all dead.”

“You should have done your own dirty work.” As one, the team turned and headed to their billeting.

Días slammed a fist on the table. “Michael, Alberto—these are your men. Control them.”

Alberto grinned. “He’s right—you said if anyone made it to the outer boundary, they would live.”

“So, I lied.” Días laughed.

Alberto ignored the comment and gestured at Michael. “We depart tomorrow for Panama to oversee the training there. Is there anything else you’d like to discuss?”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Not long ago, I finished reading Unchained: A Rex Dalton Thriller by JC Ryan. This is the third novel in the series. Join Rex and his trusty canine friend, Digger, as they flee from Afghanistan and head to India. Before long, they’re embroiled in a new adventure, while Rex tries to uphold the myth he died in an attack in Afghanistan.

With a riveting plot and a bevy of new characters, Rex shows his ‘human’ side regarding the welfare of others when he and Digger try to locate the missing daughter of an Indian couple. The trail eventually leads to Saudi Arabia. What happens there will be up to you to explore, as I don’t like to give away the full story. Suffice to say, you’ll be in for another nail-biting journey, so grab yourself a copy and prepare for late nights as you keep turning the pages!  I can’t wait for the next one in the series!

This brings us to a close 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.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, February 2, 2020

Here we are, already in February. As dawn breaks earlier and daylight hangs around a bit longer, winter is passing by. Only a few snow flurries thus far–hope I haven’t jinxed things by making a mention of this!

This past week, the writing world lost an icon: Mary Higgins Clark. Every one of her suspense novels (over 50 of them!!) have been best sellers in the U.S. and various European countries. She’ll definitely be missed by her family and fans!

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on February 2nd. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Anna Roemers Visscher, Dutch poetess; Hans E Schack, Danish politician/writer (Phantasterne); Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav, Slovak poet; Christian Gauss, educator/writer (Phi Beta Kappa award namesake); James Joyce, Irish novelist and poet (Dubliners, Ulysses, Finnigan’s Wake); James Stephens, Irish poet (Crock of Gold); Aldo Palazzeschi, [Giurlani], Italian writer (I cavalli bianchi); Carroll Righter, American columnist and astrologer to the stars; Ayn Rand [Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum], Russian-American author, screenwriter and philosopher who developed the philosophical system of “Objectivism” (Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead); Bernardas Brazdzionis, Lithuania, poet/editor/critic; Evert Werkman, Dutch journalist (Het Parool); Xuân Diệu, Vietnamese poet; Hella [S Lelyveld-]Haasse, Dutch author (Cider for Poor People); James Dickey, American poet, novelist and lecturer (Deliverance, Buckdancer’s Choice); Liz Smith [Mary Elizabeth], American journalist and gossip columnist known as “The Grand Dame of Dish” (WNBC, NY Daily News); Nydia Ecury, celebrated Afro-Dutch writer, translator and actress (Kantika pa Mama Tera); Judith Viorst, American author; Thomas M[ichael] Disch, American sci-fi author (Genocides, 102 H-Bombs); and Ina Garten, American author and TV cooking show host (Barefoot Contessa, Food Network).

Recognize anyone? Two stood out for me: James Joyce and James Dickey. 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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I was mistaken last Sunday when I mentioned the countdown specials for Dangerous Alliance and Carnage in Singapore. These will actually begin on Valentine’s Day at 12:00 a.m. PST beginning at $0.99 and gradually increasing in price, returning to normal on February 16th at 11:00 p.m. PST. I hope you’ll check them out!

Global-Thriller-semiA bit more news about Carnage in Singapore. It is now on the official semi-finalist list for the 2019 Chanticleer International Book Awards, competing in the global thriller category.

This is a super thrill for me as it joins my other novels in being recognized in this prestigious competition. The Kurdish Connection finished its run in 2018 as a semi-finalist, while Dangerous Alliance was selected as one of seven first in category winners. It’s so hard to believe!

I won’t learn until Chanticleer’s annual conference in April whether Carnage in Singapore has moved forward in the competition. Fingers crossed it does!

My Work in Progress

Slide1Editing work continues on A Cartel’s Revenge, although I mentioned last time the title would be adjusted. It’s now called Colombian Betrayal (A Bruce and Smith Thriller: Book 1) which is more fitting for how the story has actually turned out.

I’m midway through by fourth edit pass, having added over 12,000 words to the story. Feedback continues to come in from my beta readers, not just about the manuscript but ideas for the cover. Stayed tuned for more about this.

In the meantime, here’s another snippet:

Días glanced at Ramon. “What is with all of the threats? I feel like I am unwanted in this hacienda.”

Olivia shoved her chair back and stood, eyes burning with hatred. “Get out! Now!”

Alonzo jumped to his feet, pointing the shogun at Días, his finger tightening on the trigger.

Ramon pulled his second pistol from its holster. He motioned Días toward the door.

He grinned and addressed Olivia. “I shall keep Ramon informed of any information that I might come across.” He tipped an imaginary hat. “I bid you a somewhat pleasant day, given the circumstances. You have my deepest condolences during this stressful time.”

Días and Ramon left the room and headed outside. After shaking hands, Días climbed in his vehicle and waved for the driver to depart.

As his car left the compound, a smile caressed Días’ cheeks. Who is behind the kidnapping? An inside job or is someone else making a move on the Moreno cartel? He shook his head. Whoever it is, this is not good for business. I know just the person to speak to.

* * * *

The thick foliage from a copse of rosy trumpet trees hid a brown Jeep Cherokee. Inside, a man focused his binoculars on Días’s vehicle. He watched the car grow smaller as it continued along the driveway from the hacienda toward the distant gate. He chuckled. Perfect!

Watch for another snippet next time.

This brings us to a close for this week. I hope you found something of interest or possibly useful for your own writing. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be adjust the format of my posts and website. Until the next time, thank you for reading.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, January 26, 2020

The last couple of days we’ve been busy. On Friday night, we attended a black tie Burns Supper in honor of the Scottish national poet, Robert “Rabbie” Burns, who was born on January 25th, 1759. The event was held on the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is docked in the Leith area of Edinburgh. We couldn’t get tickets for the event on his actual birthday, but this was close enough.

The evening began with being piped onto the ship using the same stairs/gangway the Queen and the Royal Family used. After boarding, we were escorted to the drawing room, where champagne, spiced apple juice, and canapés were served. Those who wanted a mini-tour broke into small groups. We were taken to the officer wardroom and dining room, followed by a visit to the admiral’s quarters. Anyone who needed a champagne refill never had to look far as there were plenty of staff standing by with fresh drinks.

Afterward, we were taken into the Royal Family’s quarters. While we could enter most of the rooms, sections of the walls had been cut away and replaced with glass so we could see inside. We were able to examine the Queen’s bedroom, Prince Philips’, and the honeymoon suite, used by Prince Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones, and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. We also viewed the areas where the Queen and Prince Phillip spent their working hours aboard the ship. 

After returning to the drawing room, we were entertained by a pianist until we were piped into the State Dining Room. Once seated, we were treated to a six-course meal, including the traditional haggis, neeps, and tatties, after the piping in of the haggis. For those who were not adventurous enough to try the haggis, the following course provided fillet mignon and seasonal vegetables.

Throughout dinner, two musicians provided background music, using a harp and flute. There were also three brief interludes where a guitarist sang some of Rabbie Burns’ poems and music, including “Auld Lang Syne.” After dinner we were further entertained by a captivating rendition of “Tam O’Shanter,” another of the bard’s well-known poems. This was performed in the Scots’ tongue from the time period when it was written.

The evening ended with a whiskey tasting back in the drawing room. We headed home at the point, but had an excellent evening celebrating Rabbie Burns’ birthday.

Yesterday was the monthly ‘makers’ market’ in Kirkcaldy. With an overcast sky threatened to rain on the day and a cold win, there wasn’t a great deal of activity. However, I did sell four of my novels, three to the same individual. He had checked out my work back in November wheb we last attended but didn’t buy any at the time. Today, he decided to get all three of my published novels.

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

Florent Chrestien, French writer; Ugo Foscolo, Italian poet (Ultime lettere di Jacopo Ortis); Ludwig Joachim “Achim” von Arnim, German poet (Des Knaben Wunderhorn); Mary Mapes Dodge, American writer (Hans Brinker & the Silver Skates); Warner Fabian, [Samuel H Adams], American journalist/writer (Average Jones); Ludovicus H [Lode] Baekelmans, Flemish (stage) author (Tille); Ilya G Ehrenburg, writer (Fall of Paris, The Thaw); Menno ter Braak, Dutch writer/essayist (Carnaval of the Citizens); Romney Brent, Mexican-American actor and writer (Dinner at the Ritz); Kaye Webb, English writer/publisher (Puffin Club); Philip José Farmer, American sci-fi novelist (Riverworld); Michael Bentine, English author/comedian (Reluctant Jester); José María Valverde, Spanish philosopher, poet and translator (La espera, Historia de la literatura universal); Farman Fatehpuri [Syed Dildar Ali], Urdu scholar, linguist, critic and author; Ronald Allison, British author/broadcaster; Jonathan Carroll, American author; and Shannon Hale, American author.

Recognize anyone? I admit I’m not familiar with anyone on today’s list. 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

39375-96With Valentine’s Day soon approaching, there will be two specials regarding Dangerous Alliance and Carnage in Singapore coming up over the next week.  The first will be a Kindle countdown for Dangerous Alliance beginning on January 29th. There will also be a Kindle countdown for Carnage in Singapore beginning on February 1st.

Both are scheduled to run across the Amazon network, so don’t miss out, as this might not be offered again! What better time to grab yourself a global thriller novel for that special someone!

My Work in Progress

Slide1Editing work continues on A Cartel’s Revenge. I’m midway through by second edit pass, having added over 7,000 words to the story. Over the past week, copies were sent to my team of ten beta readers. So far, two have already gone through the manuscript and responded with some good points. It’s likely the name may be adjusted before submission, but I’ll have to wait and see what my other beta readers have to say.  Things still appear to be on track for submission in early March or early April.

Here’s another snippet from A Cartel’s Revenge:

“Olivia, someone must want to chase you from the cartel.” Kruz rubbed his chin. “Will you leave?”

“No.” She hesitated before shaking her head. “Never.” She turned to Alonzo. “Get Ramon. We must find out who took my girls and get them back—at all costs.” If they’ve harmed my precious daughters, I’ll kill the bastardos.

* * * *

“Good evening.” A synthesized voice echoed throughout the room. “I believe everyone is present— Señor Kruz, Pedro, Alonzo, and Ramon. Of course, la jefa de la señora is with you, too.”

“Where are my children, you bastardo?” Olivia squeezed her fists into her lap, her face turning red. “How do you know who is here?”

The voice chuckled. “I have my ways, my dear.” The sounds of fingers snapping popped through the speaker. “Almost forgot. There’s someone who wants to speak with you.”

Silence.

“Mamá? Are you there?”

“Silvina! Are you okay? Where’s Maria?”

“Beside me, but she’s too frightened to speak.” Silvina lowered her voice. “The man—he’s the one who came into the—”

The sounds of a struggle came through the speaker.

“Ow! You’re hurting me.”

The synthesized voice returned. “Remember—leave Barranquilla … or your children will die!”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Between editing, the Burns Supper, and the ‘makers’ market,’ I didn’t have a chance to gather my thoughts and provide another book review this time. Hopefully, I’ll have a couple of them for you next week.

This brings us to a close for this week. I hope you found something of interest or possibly 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 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, January 19, 2020

We’re finally getting some respite from the constant rain and dreary skies. It’s still coming down each day or evening, but the dry, sunny spells are more frequent and lasting longer. This morning, though, we began with a bit of ground frost.

With temperatures getting into the upper 40s F (upper single digits C) and even occasionally hitting the mid 50s F (low double digits C) it won’t be long before outdoor spring cleaning will be upon us. Yesterday, when I was getting our favorite newspaper, there was a customer walking out of the store with a brand new rake!

I also understand my blog has been nominated by D.L. Finn for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I’ll provide my input for this award next week, but many thanks to D.L.!

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

Noel Alexandre, French theologian/historian; Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, French writer (Paul et Virgin); Isaiah Thomas, American printer/editor/publisher/historian; Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom, Swedish historian/poet (Blommorna); Edgar Allan Poe, American writer, poet and critic (The Pit and the Pendulum) considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre (Murders in the Rue Morgue); Gustav Meyrink, writer; Hans Erich Blaich [Dr. Owlglass], German writer (Simplicissimus); Marie Koenen, author/wife of Felix Rutten (Wassend Cereal); Boris Savinkov, Russian writer; Alexander Woollcott, American critic and short story writer (The Man Who Came to Dinner); Heinrich Schmist-Barrien, German author (Moorkeerl); Phyllis Flowerdew, school Reading text author; Rex Ingamells, Australian poet; Patricia Highsmith, [Plangman], US/Swiss writer (Strangers on a Train); Jean Francois Revel, French journalist/author (Ni Marx ni Jesus); Nina [Mary] Bawden, English author (Afternoon of a Good Woman); Libera Carlier, Flemish author (Action Station Go!); Julian Barnes, England, writer (Before She Met Me); and Edwidge Danticat, Haitian-American author.

Were any names familiar to you? I’m sure most people will have heard of Edgar Allan Poe, even if you haven’t read any of his 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

Slide1Thus far this year, I’m still concentrating on editing A Cartel’s Revenge. My first edit pass should be completed this upcoming week. So far, I’ve added over 5,000 words to the story. I now have nine committed beta readers. They’ll receive a copy by the end of the month, so I can adjust the story based on their feedback. Things appear to be on track for submission in early March, but they could still slip.

Here’s another snippet from A Cartel’s Revenge:

Most of the men fired AK-47s, but the squad leaders used M4 and SA-80 assault rifles stolen from various military base arsenals across Europe. Each man began with a stack of magazines, replacing the empty ones as if their lives depended upon it. Before long, Michael and Alberto’s last shots faded away while the surrounding thirty men finished their practice.

The aroma of breakfast replaced the smell of discharged weapons. Días’ men dragged out metal containers filled with scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and bacon. The students filed past, filling plates. Most skipped the bacon, but a few glanced around before sneaking a piece or two.

Alberto and Michael joined Días at a folding table while the others found areas to sit on the ground under the trees.

Días shoveled food into his mouth, not bothering to swallow before speaking. “I have an unusual treat for your training.”

“Your facilities are excellent, both for target shooting and the obstacle course.” Michael smiled. “I assume you’ve held sufficient training sessions.”

Días nodded. “Yes, when FARC was busy fighting the government, we had plenty of recruits join us. Most of them learned their skills here.” He pointed to his right. “My present to you.”

A dozen guards led six men toward the table. Their arms were tied in front of them. Heads cast down, they bore numerous cuts and bruises.

He glared at them. “You know the punishment.” Días turned to Michael and Alberto. “Government troops could have raided us at any time. These men betrayed me by sleeping on guard duty. They’ll help your men sharpen their skills.”

Alberto rubbed his chin. “How?”

“Your men will face fierce opposition from the Norte Americanos. Why not train against real targets?”

“What do you propose?” Michael’s eyes gleamed with excitement.

“I suggest you break your men into six groups.” Días gestured to the distant hills. “Each of the prisoners will be given a weapon or two, and a ten-minute head start. If they can reach the perimeter fence, they shall live.” He shrugged. “However, your teams will be free to hunt them down—and kill them.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading When Can I stop Running by John Podlaski. Follow the incredible story of two Detroit teenagers as they spend a haunting night in a listening post outside their new firebase. All around them were the enemy and they had no idea if they would make it through the night.

John has created a very realistic plot and characters. I kept turning the pages, wanting to find out if they survived the night. Flashbacks to their earlier lives enhances the realism and makes you feel as if you’re there with them. Only someone who has lived through this type of event can apply the realism needed to convey what the teenagers experienced. This is the first novel of John’s that I’ve read and it won’t be the last!

This brings us to a close 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.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, January 12, 2020

With each tick of the calendar, the sun is rising earlier and staying around a bit longer each day. If there was only a control for the rain! At least the white stuff has stayed away thus far. Won’t be long and we’ll begin preparing the flower beds for planting!

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on January 12th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Andreas Alicatus, Italian author; Charles Perrault, French author and fairy tale writer (Tales of Mother Goose); Edmund Burke, British author (Philosophy & Inquiry); Jacob M R Lenz, writer (Das Leidende Weib); Erik Gustaf Geijer, Swedish historian/poet (Natthimmelen); Louise Sophie Blussé, Dutch author; Francois Coppee, French poet; Marika Stiernstedt, Swedish author (Ulla Bella); Jack London, American writer/socialist (Call of the Wild); Paul Jarrico, American writer; Jennifer Johnston, Irish author (Fool’s sanctuary); Alain Teister, Dutch writer; Helmut Eisendle, Austrian writer; Jacques Hamelink, Dutch writer & poet (Cold Unrest); William Nicholson, English writer; Haruki Murakami, Japanese writer (Norwegian Wood); Charles Faulkner, American motivational speaker & author; Walter Mosley, American novelist; and Lasana M. Sekou, Caribbean poet & author (The Salt Reaper).

Were any names familiar to you? I must admit I was pretty clueless when it came to today’s group, except for Charles Perrault. Who has heard of Mother Goose? 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

1541181671Thus far this year, I’ve concentrated on editing A Cartel’s Revenge. My first edit pass is almost completed, and I’ve added around 3,000 words to the story. I’ve lined up seven beta readers, too. They’ll receive a copy as soon as the first edit is completed so I can adjust the story based on their feedback.

Here’s another snippet from A Cartel’s Revenge:

A police officer stopped the traffic as the back end of a white Hyundai came level with the road.

Javier swallowed and closed his eyes. AJ’s rental—I’m sure that’s the license plate number she mentioned when we last spoke. He opened his eyes and stared at the car.

The police officer blew a whistle, motioning for traffic to continue.

Javier pulled onto the side of the road after he cleared the emergency vehicles. Jumping out, he rushed toward the damaged vehicle.

“Alto, señor.” The police officer grabbed Javier’s arm.

“My wife—that’s her car.” He took in a deep breath. “Is she—”

“Relax, señor. They found her outside the vehicle.”

“Is she—”

The police officer smiled and waved in the direction of Colon “She’s alive. The first ambulance took her to the Manuel Amador Guerrero Hospital. Take Highway 3 toward Nuevo Cristobal and turn right on Calle 11.”

***

Javier picked up a spoon and sampled the dish. He chewed for a moment before swallowing.

“Well?”

“Needs salt.” He helped himself to more.

AJ yawned. “Enjoy. So what’s the plan?”

“When I drove back to the port, I saw the Barwal underway. I pretended to be a nosy gringo and asked someone where the ship was headed. The guy shrugged and glanced at a clipboard hanging on the wall of his shed.”

“What did he say?”

Javier grinned.

“Okay. You’re forgiven for abandoning me. Did he tell you the ship’s next destination?”

He nodded. “Turbo.”

“Yes!” AJ punched the air. “Ow!” She grimaced.

“I suggest we call in additional help. Recommend bringing some of my guys here while we head to Colombia as soon as you’re released.”

“Agreed.” AJ yawned again. “I’m going to rest.” She switched off the light above her bed.

“Sweet dreams.” Javier settled back in his chair and pulled a tablet from his shoulder bag. He used a special cable to connect the device to his satellite phone and composed a message.

To: Jararaca

From: Cobra

Mission progressing as planned. Request immediate dispatch of four-person team to take over surveillance duties as we continue following the Barwal.

Javier hit transmit and put away his SAT phone and iPad. He stepped to the window and tilted the blinds to block the late afternoon sun streaming in before returning to his seat.

He glanced at the now-sleeping AJ and smiled. Am I falling for this woman? She looks like an angel—so beautiful when she’s asleep. He shook his head. Focus on the mission. Must find out who did this … and eliminate them.

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Blair Howard’s Two For The Money is a riveting who-done-it story. Follow the realistic characters portrayed by Harry Starke and Lieutenant Kate Gazzara as they try to unravel who stole 350 million dollars from an investment firm and killed one of the owners.

You’ll be turning the pages as fast as you can to find out who might be involved. Could it be one of the other owners or someone else? Every time I thought I knew who was responsible, Harry and Kate would uncover another piece of the puzzle pointing to someone else.

If you enjoy mystery and crime stories with riveting plots and unexpected twists, this one is for you!

This brings us to a close 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.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, January 5, 2020

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The holidays are behind us and the decorations are packed away for another year. Now we’re getting plenty of advice on television and in the newspapers on how to lose the extra pounds we might have gained during the holidays and where to go for this year’s vacation.

So far the white stuff has stayed away, at least in our area. Of course, something had to replace it. Rather than crisp and sunny days, we’re greeted with mild temperatures and rain. Too bad we can’t shift some of that water to areas fighting fires!

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on January 5th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

André Henri Constant van Hasselt, Belgian poet (La Belgium); Algernon Charles Swinburne, English poet & writer; Khristo Botev, Bulgarian poet & nationalist revolutionary; Gustaf af Geijerstam, Swedish author (Boken om Lillebror); Herbert Bayard Swope, U.S. journalist who coined the term “Cold War”; Humbert Wolfe, Italian-born British poet; Paula Ludwig, Austrian-German poet; Dorothea “Stella” Gibbons, English author (Cold Comfort Farm); Anton Ingolic, Slavic author (After Splavih, After Prelomu); Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Swiss playwright and novelist (The Physicists, The Visit); Robert L. Bernstein, American publisher (Random House); William De Witt Snodgrass, American poet; Umberto Eco, Italian philosopher and author (Name of the Rose); Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Kenyan writer; Michael O’Donoghue, American writer and performer (Saturday Night Live, Scrooged); and Terenci Moix, Spanish writer.

Were any names familiar to you? I must admit I was pretty clueless when it came to today’s group. 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

Carnage 3D CoverCarnage in Singapore is competing in the 2019 Chanticleer International Books Awards for the global thrillers category. Since there are sixteen categories, they closed at different times during the year and progression through the various stages to the finals happen at different times.

I found out this week Carnage in Singapore has move from the slush pile to the long list. Now it’s competing with seventeen other novels to find out who will make the semi-final list. More to follow as the results are revealed.

My Work in Progress

1541181671Over the holidays and this first part of 2020, I’ve concentrated on editing A Cartel’s Revenge is well underway. Plenty still to do as I continue to move forward. I’m also working my way through a myriad of potential covers, but I still have time to make a decision.

Here’s another snippet from A Cartel’s Revenge:

Their American Airlines flight touched down on a patched runway Steve Day at Tocumen International Airport outside Panama City as scheduled. They cleared customs and exited the terminal. Arms linked, they strolled to a nearby taxi rank and approached the first cab.

“Excuse me, would you take my husband and me to our hotel?” AJ stared at Javier as she squeezed his uninjured arm. “We got married this morning in Miami and came here for our honeymoon.”

“Si, señora. What is the name of your hotel?”

“I haven’t the faintest idea. John, do you remember?”

“Why I sure do, pumpkin. The Hotel Coral Suites.”

The driver opened the rear door for the newlyweds to enter. “An excellent hotel. The journey will take about thirty minutes. I can also show you the scenic route along the water. Perhaps an extra twenty minutes.”

AJ glanced at her new husband and fluttered her eyelids. “What do you think, darling?”

“Let’s go straight to the hotel, pumpkin. I’m bushed.”

“No way!” AJ shook her head. “Not tonight!”

Javier laughed and helped AJ inside the taxi.

The taxi pushed through the heavy evening traffic, as the driver alternated between his horn and the brakes.

AJ snuggled into Javier. “Oh, darling, what a brilliant idea to surprise me with this trip.”

She caught the driver watching in the rearview mirror, so she gave Javier a sloppy kiss on his cheek. “I thought we’d go to the Smokey Mountains or something. Why, we didn’t even have time to pack our bags.”

“Sweetheart, we can always go to the mountains. This trip came up at the last moment, and I couldn’t resist. You can buy whatever you need.” Javier returned AJ’s kiss, causing the driver to swerve as a car stopped in front of them. “We’ll fish on Gatun Lake, take a tour boat from one end of the canal to the other, and try our luck at the casino.”

Once they arrived at the hotel, Javier paid the driver, giving him a generous tip to remember them by, and escorted his bride inside. Javier took care of the formalities at the check-in desk, while AJ headed to a small boutique she spotted as they entered.

A bellboy led them to their suite, pushing a cart with AJ’s various purchases. After he unlocked the door, Javier scooped AJ in his arms and carried her across the threshold.

Alone at last, secured in their room, they scrutinized their surroundings.

AJ tossed her bags on one of the king-sized beds. “I claim this one—closest to the bathroom.” She raised her eyebrows at Javier. “I hope you don’t snore.”

“From time to time.” Javier chuckled. “You can always crawl in next to me so you can nudge me without having to leave your bed.” He patted the covers.

“I think our arrival charade is over for now, darling.” AJ laughed. “Don’t think anyone will expect a new bride and groom to be here with an ulterior motive.”

“Whatever you think is best, pumpkin. Who gets the bathroom first?”

“Why darling, haven’t you learned anything? Ladies are always first.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Vengeance of a Slave by V.M. Sang is a riveting story set during the period when Rome controlled Britannia. Follow the trials and tribulations of Adelbhert after he and his sister are taken by the Romans from their mother. They eventually end up as slaves in what is modern-day London. Adelbhert performs a nightly ritual to remind himself of the suffering he and his sister have endured, beginning with the crucifixion of their father. He vows to escape and punish those who have wronged him.

V.M. has created a moving story which will keep you turning the pages to find out how Adelbhert and his sister handle their new life. Experience their sorrow, anguish, and finally hope as they adapt to their changing situation. This is the first novel I’ve red of V.M.’s and it certainly won’t be the last! Well done and highly recommended!

I also completed Gordon Bickerstaff’s The Black Fox. This will keep you on the edge as you turn the pages to find out what happens next. Follow special forces-trained Zoe Tampsin and bumbling scientist Gavin Shawlens as they are plunged into the abyss. Why does the CIA want Gavin killed? You’ll burn the midnight oil as this engaging story will keep you wanting to know more.

As with all of Gordon’s works, he’s created another excellent plot with a superb twist. I won’t share the ending–you’ll have to grab a copy of Black Knight, but it’s a spell-binding winner! Can’t wait to read more of Gordon’s stories.

This brings us to a close for the first weekend of 202. 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 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved