Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, September 22, 2018

We took a cruise to the island of Inchcolm on Friday. Armed with a picnic lunch, we landed on the island and wandered around before finding an unoccupied table. 100_4732.JPGWith clear blue skies and moderate temperatures, it was a great day out. Originally inhabited by a hermit  and his cow, Alexander I sheltered on the island during a storm in 1123. Alexander I promised to build a monastery on the island but passed away the following year. However, his brother, David I, kept the promise. For more details, please check out the following link: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/inchcolm-abbey/history/

We took advantage of the last evening trip of the season on the Maid of the Forth, this time a cabaret cruise, complete with champagne and canapes. With a cloudless sky and a slight breeze it was a grand evening, with music from the ’50s to today. The biggest surprise was sailing as close as a police boat allowed (about 300 meters) from the recently launched HMS Prince of Wales, Britain’s newest aircraft carrier, which as assembled in the nearby port of Rosyth. The ship entered the waters of the Firth of Forth for the first time on Thursday and will begin sea trials soon, so it was a great experience!

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on September 22nd . (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Bilbo Baggins, Fictional main character of J. R. R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel The Hobbit (in Shire Reckoning); Philipp Nikodemus Frischlin, German philologist and poet; Barthold Heinrich Brockes, German poet; Lord Chesterfield, letter writer; introduced Gregorian calendar; John Home, Scottish writer; Quintin Craufurd, British author; Theodore Edward Hook, English author; Louis Van Deyssel, writer (Small Republic, One Love); Babette Deutsch, American poet (Animal vegetable mineral); F R Boschvogel, [French LJ Ramon], Flemish writer (War of Worlds); Phyllis Hartnoll, writer/editor; Dannie Abse, Welsh poet and writer; Rosamunde Pilcher, English novelist (The Shell Seekers); Robert Morace, American writer; Jim Keith, American conspiracy theorist and author; Geoff Gilpin, American author; and Diogo Mainardi, Brazilian writer.

Was anyone familiar to you? I admit, I didn’t know most of this 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

39375-270The photo to the left of my three novels is compliments of AllAuthor’s new Magic Tool, released on September 20th. There are loads of options available, but I went with this one, which I shared on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  As I continue to spread the word about my stories, I’ll be using additional options.

 

 

My Work in Progress

Writing continued on A Cartel’s Revenge this week with the completion of chapter thirty. 1541181671As always, it’s now posted to the two subscription writing sites I use. The chapter review count continues to increase, now standing at 407, an increase of  thirteen in the past week. As always, plenty of good advice to help me improve my writing.

Here’s another snippet:

One of the guards inched the door open, and Ramon slid inside. Pedro lay on the bed groaning, blood spread across his face, the pillowcase, and splattered upon the blanket and the wall. Stench from the blood permeated the air.

Ramon held his breath and knelt to check for a pulse—weak and irregular. “Call for an ambulance—he’s alive!” A quick check revealed no other injuries.

Pedro struggled to sit. His face screwed in agony, he gasped and collapsed onto the sheets.

Ramon took in a sharp breath. Unfortunate he lives—but for how long? Ramon pointed to one of the guards. “Stay with him. Did you find the girls—where are they?”

The two guards remained silent. Ramon shoved them aside and rushed to Maria’s room, cursing under his breath.

Yanking a pistol from its holster, he eased the unlocked door open. In the middle of the tile floor, a pool of blood created a Rorschach pattern. He glanced around. No Maria, no body. Where is she?

As he scanned the room, a quiet whimper emanated from one of the walk-in closets. Ramon motioned with his weapon for a guard to enter the room and approach the closet. In position, he gestured for the man to open the door.

On the floor, a child lay curled in a ball. Tears trickled down her cheeks.

Ramon’s eyes ran along the rack of clothes before kneeling. He spoke in a soft voice, “Maria, it’s me, Ramon. You’re safe now. Please, come out.”

“I-I’m afraid.”

“Maria, no one will hurt you. I won’t allow any harm to come to you.”

A tiny hand appeared, clasping the edge of the doorframe. From within, eyes filled with fright peered at Ramon.

“Ramon!” Maria jumped up and lunged at him, grasping his legs as she burst into tears.

“Shhh. You’re safe now.” He examined her for injuries before patting her on the shoulder. “Tell me what happened.”

“I-I, heard a loud bang, like shooting but louder than Mamá’s gun. The noise woke me. Someone stood in my room, staring at me. A man—he wore an evil mask. He held a coatimundi and slit its throat. I screamed, and he ran, taking the raccoon with him.”

“Okay, Maria. Stay with the guard. I must check on Silvina.” He signaled for a female guard to remain behind. He raised his hand, beckoning the other two to follow.

In Silvina’s room, they found a similar pool of blood on the floor. Silvina sat on her bed, a tennis racket in her hand, the other end balanced on her knee. She scooted off the bed and raced to Ramon when she spotted him.

“Ramon, a bad man came into my room. He killed a coati and let the blood seep out. I hit him with my racket. Twice. He ran out.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished the third novel of the Four Seasons series, Into Winter: The Armed Invasion, by Larry Landgraf. With Sandra Hawkins, the ruthless leader of Corpus Christi out for revenge, those living in Peaceful Valley prepare for an onslaught. Larry has cranked up the tension in this novel, as we follow Robbie and Sean, as well as the other residents of Peaceful Valley as they take the war to Sandra.

With a superb plot and plenty of action, those seeking an outstanding thriller have come to the right place. I kept rooting for Robbie and Sean’s success, staying up late as it was so hard to put this one down. Look forward to the series finale!

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, July 7, 2019

The weather continued to be decent this past week, so outdoor chores were the primary focus. The builder completed stage one in the back yard, and it looks fantastic.  I also continued painting the fences, and things are coming together. We also shifted some plants around. One area is now covered primarily with rhodedenrons, while another is filled with lupins. Still plenty more to do.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on July 7th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Albert Vandal, French earl/historian (Le Pacha Bonneval); Ludwig Ganghofer, German writer; Miroslav Krleža, Croatian writer; Robert A[nson] Heinlein, American sci-fi author (4 Hugos, Red Planet); Helene Johnson, American Harlem Renaissance poet; Harriette Arnow, novelist (Dollmaker); Margaret Walker Alexander, poet/novelist (For My People); Yvonne Mitchell, writer (Johnny Nobody, Genghis Khan); Reinhard Baumgart, German writer and critic; Hasan Abidi, Pakistani journalist and poet; David Eddings, American sci-fi author (Belgariad, Malloreon); Howard Rheingold, American author; Jason R. Rich, American writer (Celebrity Teen Talk); and Jeff VanderMeer, American writer.

Was anyone familiar to you? I admit, there weren’t many recognizable names for me. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

News About My Published Work

the bedlam series banner

My online book tour began on June 25th as scheduled. During the first week, I picked up over eighty new followers and one hundred twenty-eight people have added my novels to their ‘to-read’ lists. At one point, The Kurdish Connection was #23 for terrorism thrillers in Australia and 888 in the U.S.

If you’d like to find out more, please check out: https://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/the-bedlam-series-book-tour-and-giveaway

My Work in Progress

carnage in singapore-001(1)Carnage in Singapore will be released soon by Solstice Publishing. Here’s another snippet:

Noah exited the elevator and located Koh’s home. He unlocked the door and whistled at the luxurious decor. “Wonder how Koh made enough money for this place.”

He walked through the apartment, the straps of his backpack thrown over a shoulder. A mixture of taupe, mauve, peach, cream, gray, muted blues, and purples featured throughout the four-bedroom home. Downlighters and chandeliers highlighted the accent chrome features and decorative mirrors. Each room seemed to make a statement, whether it was a rare oriental carpet or a centered piece of artwork. A hint of sage permeated the air.

Noah collapsed onto a sofa in the sunken living room. The sudden movement made his head throb again, and he cursed. He spotted a remote and turned on the television. A local news channel presenter gave a recap of the rocket attack. “Balagan (a mess)!” He shook his head. “These terrorists must be captured before the situation worsens. They’ve been successful once, which will encourage them to escalate their attacks.”

He muted the television and pulled his laptop out of his bag. Using his satellite phone, he made a secure connection.

To: Skylark

From: Petrel

Sorry for delay in providing an update. Wild visit so far. Involved in a shoot-out with unknown individuals when heading to the survivor’s location. Received a graze and spent an evening in the hospital. Returned to hotel room and found it ransacked. Now staying at ISD contact’s apartment.

Unless otherwise advised, will offer my assistance to ISD in the aftermath of the terrorist attack.

More next time.

Work on A Cartel’s Revenge was almost nil again this week as I concentrated on outdoor chores. 1541181484Chapter seventeen is nearing Readers continue to provide their input, with 214 chapter reviews thus far. Plenty of excellent suggestions to choose from!

 

 

 

 

angolan cole-revised3Collaboration efforts on Xavier Sear: Angola continue. Chapters three is now completed.  There’s been a bit of tweaking to some of the characters’ names and the timeline. An additional chapter has been added to the outline. More to follow regarding both novels as the stories unfold.

 

 

 

 

Books I’m Reading

With all of the outdoor activities, I was pretty tired in the evenings, so I’m afraid I don’t have a book review ready for you. Will work on one during the week and present it next time.

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, February 24, 2019

As another month draws to a close, we’ve had temperatures between 55-62F/13-16C over the past week. The rhododendrons are covered with green shoots and our cats are spending more time outdoors in the pleasant weather.

Yesterday, we attended our first craft fair of 2019. Things went well, with a few candles and several poetry sheets sold. With a six-foot table and the warm weather, we decided not to include the knitwear, and I forgot to take the pyrography (woodburning).

In addition, three copies of The Kurdish Connection and two of Dangerous Alliance were autographed for customers.

Painting also continued during the past week; the new kitchen/dining area is sparkling. Just need a few tiles on the wall near the sink and hob and it will be finished.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on February 24th. (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Muhammad ibn Battutah, Arab travel writer (Travels in Asia & Africa); Sixt(us) Birck [Xystus Betulius], German writer (Suzanna); Matthias C Sarbiewski, [Sarbievius], Polish jesuit/poet; Vincent Voiture, French poet; Wilhelm Grimm, German story teller (Grimm’s Fairy Tales); Rosalía de Castro, Santiago de Compostela Galician writer and poet; C Grant B Allen, Canadian writer (Woman Who Did); George A Moore, Irish painter/novelist (Esther Waters); Daniel Berkeley Updike, printer/publisher/writer (Printing Types); Herman Teirlinck, Belgian writer (Sun); Juliusz Kaden-Bandrowski, Polish novelist/satirist (Black Wings); Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Polish writer and painter; Mary Ellen Chase, US linguistic/author (White Gate); Jacob Presser, Dutch historian/writer (Down-fall); Alexis Curvers, Belgian author (Tempo di Roma, Bourg-le-Rond); August William Derleth, writer (Judge Peck Mysteries); Ludvig Aschkenazy, writer; David Mourao-Ferreira, poet/politician; Michael Harrington, socialist/author (Fragments of Century); and Maurizio Giuliano, writer and traveller.

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

My Work in Progress

Editing continues on my third novel, Carnage in Singapore. So far I’m still on 1539534550track to submit the manuscript to my publisher in May/June. Here’s another snippet:

Two additional guards patrolled the terrace. When Musa approached, one patted him down while the other watched monitored the perimeter. Not finding any obvious weapons, the guard motioned him to the door.

After entering, Musa removed his shoes and put on a pair of slippers. He crossed the teak floor and joined Abu Zeze, who waited for him near a small fire. They clasped right hands and gave a slight nod to each other.

Selamat (Peace), Musa. It’s good to see you again.” Abu Zeze stared at Musa through thick glasses which gave him a bug-eyed appearance. Gray hair, covered by a skull cap, and a traditional multi-colored sarong and shirt. A pair of brown slippers completed his ensemble.

“And to you. I’m honored you had time to meet with me.”

Abu Zeze gave a dismissive wave. “Come sit by the fire and share a cup of wedang jahe with me.”

“Thank you.”

Abu Zeze clapped his hands, and a young boy appeared with a tray holding two cups of the warm ginger drink and a plate of orange slices.

Once the boy served the men, he departed. Friends for several years, Musa and Abu Zeze brought each other up to date on news worth repeating. After they finished their light repast, Abu Zeze gazed at his friend.

“What is on your mind, Musa? You seem preoccupied.”

“Yes, I guess I am. I want JAD to become further linked with Jemaah Islamiyah.”

Abu Zeze tilted his head to the side and rubbed his scrawny beard. “As with all other groups who seek access to JI resources, you must show how you plan to serve us.”

Musa sighed. “We’ll use a tiered approach. To start, a barrage of mortars from Batam Island and explosive charges at several Singapore tourist attractions.”

His host pursed his lips and nodded. “All achievable, but insufficient for our purposes to instill fear.”

“I’m not finished.” Musa raised his hands. “We’ll also kidnap the senior official from each of the British, Australian, and American embassies. Their right index fingers will be severed and sent to the respective embassy as a warning to leave. We will spread out the kidnappings to garner wider press coverage.”

More next time.

1539535798I didn’t have much time left over to work on the final book of the series, Ultimate Escalation. However, I did manage to complete some additional research.

 

 

 

 

Books I’m Reading

With the work around the house and preparation for the craft fair, my reading time was cut short. I have another novel almost finished and will provide my thoughts next time.

My Favorite Authors

Another of my favorite authors is Clive Cussler. The international exploits of his various characters no doubt influenced my decision to begin my writing career with journeys to distant lands and cultures.

I have to laugh; an individual once referred to Mr. Cussler as a hack writer. With over seventy books to his credit and at least twenty novels making The New York Times fiction best-seller list, many writers could only dream of having this kind of success.

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 2, 2018

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrated last week. Hope no one was crushed in the Good Friday sales!

The hedgehogs are doing well, filling up on food and preparing their new home for hibernation. Each morning we check on their exploits through videos taken by our trail camera. They are definitely active after the sun goes down, whether it’s eating or hauling more leaves and twigs into the nest. It’s very interesting to watch their preparations. We’ll know when they are asleep, as the food will no long disappear each day!

As always, we’ll check out those associated with the writing world who celebrate birthdays today (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Carlo Bertinazzi, Italian actor and writer (commedia dell’arte); Francis Jammes, French poet/writer (Jammisme); Jonas Cohn, German/English philosopher (Theory of the Dialects); Charles H. Wesley, author writer and Brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Inc.; Klaas Voskuil, journalist; Russell Lynes, American art historian, photographer, author and managing editor of Harper’s Magazine; Randolph Apperson Hearst, American newspaper publisher (Hearst Newspapers); Brian Lumley, England, sci-fi author (Compleat Crow, Psychomech); Yael Dayan, Israeli writer and politician; Botho Strauß, German author; T. Coraghessan Boyle, American writer; George Saunders, American writer (Lincoln in the Bardo); and Ann Patchett, 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!

News About My Published Work

Dangerous Alliance received its fourth five-star review this week: Just WOW! If Author Randall Krzak’s intention was to draw you into several different plots at once, he

DA-3D-cover

certainly succeeded! Each action-packed chapter of this novel, “Dangerous Alliance,” pulls you into the next one. It’s one you can’t put down. Plenty of high-energy, heart-pumping scenes that will leave you breathless. Cargo and passenger ships are disappearing at a rapid pace along the coastline of Somali and Kenya, yet no one’s in a hurry to do anything about it. This allows Al-Shabab to set its sites on Kenya. That’s when things change.

Author Krzak knows how to spin a tale and comes up with plenty of surprises and non-stop action scenes. Follow Colonel Trevor Franklin, the team leader of Bedlam Bravo, as he leads his group into East Africa and keeps his cool during heated political confusion.

Whatever you do, don’t miss this one! This is the second novel I’ve read by this author, and he does not disappoint. He pulls all the subplots together in the end in an unexpected way. A thoroughly enjoyable read!

My new novel, Dangerous Alliance, is up for the allauthor.com Cover of the Month. Please vote at: https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/ Thank you!

My Work in Progress

Much of my writing time over the past two weeks was once again devoted to social media marketing of Dangerous Alliance. However, I did manage to complete two more chapters of Carnage in Singapore. The manuscript has now received 485 chapter reviews, all assisting me in improving my writing and tweaking the story.

I also finished the draft synopsis for a 10,000-word short story. The tentative title is The European Caper: Both retired, Larry Samson a former DEA agent and his wife Cyndi is a CPA. They head out on their annual vacation. Before they board the aircraft, the yare asked to check into a drug smuggling ring using pleasure craft to move their goods through the various European capitals.

Will they be able to trace the conduits and pass the information along or do Larry and Cyndi run afoul of the group and end up in harm’s way? Only time will tell.

Stayed tuned for more.

Books I’m Reading

Into Autumn: A Story of Survival by Larry Landgraf is the first in his Four Seasons series. Larry’s blended the perfect story about those trying to survive after the world as Lars knew it collapsed into a nightmare. Already living in a small valley, Lars is joined by Eileen, who stumbled upon his safe haven. With several like-minded neighbors, they cope without modern conveniences. Utilities cut off, food scarce and others trying to take from them, using deadly force.

Lars and Eileen build a new life and before a close-knit ‘family’ with Samuel, Reggie and their spouses and children. Follow their adventure as they make tough decisions in order to survive. Cheer them on as they deal with one challenge after another. An exciting plot, which kept me turning the pages late into the evening. Can’t wait to read the next in the series.

Russ Moran’s The Violent Sea shows once again his ability to mix historical events into a thrilling read. His well-crafted characters come to life in the latest time travel adventure. Join Rear Admiral Harry Fenton and his wife, Lieutenant Meg Fenton on their latest ride through the ages. Once again, they are involved in major events, which change the course of history. A superb plot with plenty of thrills and tension for all readers!

Arabian Days by Barbara Russell is a delightful story, which will have you cheering for the underdogs. Can a disfigured slave who is curse find the girl of his dreams and find happiness? Will Chloe be the one? This plot has plenty of action, twists, and a bit of romance. A fantastic read for various ages and well work a look.

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.

Larry Landgraf. Learn more information about Larry and his other books.

Russ Moran. Find out more about the various books written by Russ and follow his blog.

Barbara Russell. Follow writing Barbara’s journey and find out what she’s up to.

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

Randall’s Ramblings, November 11, 2018

Today’s the one hundredth anniversary of the armistice signifying the end of World War One. Called the ‘war to end all wars’ we are reminded of the brave sacrifices of men and women to protect our freedom, regardless of our backgrounds. Give a moment of silence for those who served when called upon.

After a series of author interviews, I’m back with my regular ramblings. As always, we’ll check out those associated with the writing world who celebrate birthdays today (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Bernardo Tasso, Italian poet; George Savile, 1st marquis of Halifax/author (Character of a Trimmer); Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russian novelist (Crime and Punishment, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man; Thomas Bailey Aldrich, American author/editor (Story of a Bad Boy); Alceu Amoroso Lima, Brazilian author; F. Van Wyck Mason, American author; Daisy Bates, publisher/head (Arkansas NAACP); Eladio Rusconi, writer/publisher/businessman; [Dallas] Mack/McCord Reynolds, American sci-fi author (Earth War); Kalle Päätalo, Finnish novelist; Kurt Vonnegut Jr, American author (Slaughterhouse Five, Sirens of Titan); Piet van der Sanden, Dutch journalist and politician (CDA); Carlos Fuentes, author (The Death of Artemio Cruz); H M Enzensberger, writer; Callum Alexander MacDonald, historian; Mircea Dinescu, Romanian poet; Mary Gaitskill, American novelist; and Lee Battersby, Australian 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

Dangerous Alliance was released this week by Solstice Publishing. There have already been two five-star reviews! Here’s the first one: “A Nail-Biting Thriller! This is the first book I’ve read by this author and it won’t be the last.

Krzak masterfully weaves together four subplots all aiming toward a powerful ending. In the background, throughout the book, is a poignant and moving story of a man separated from his family. The man constantly faces a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t dilemma. Plenty of crisp action scenes pull you from one chapter to the next. Krzak knows how to turn a literary phrase. One of my favorites was: “Evelyn pulled the wig from her head, years draining away.”

You follow the groups of determined characters, some of whom are quite creepy, as they take care of business with some horrifying results. I will never be a spoiler, but the author pulls it all together toward the end, as if all the characters have gotten together for a meeting.

If you like an engaging read with a lot of imaginative stories tied together, this is definitely a book for you. Highly recommended.”

The second one is from a repeat reader! “Great Read! After reading the first book of the series, The Kurdish Connection, I couldn’t miss the second instalment of the series. The Bedlam boys are back with a new adventure. There’s more action, more tension in this novel, but the same smooth writing with lots of details about life in North Korea. Strongly recommend it.

Hopefully,  others will soon join these two.

My Work in Progress

During the time I focused on author interviews, I continued working on Carnage in Singapore. The drafts of thirty-one chapters are finished thus far and are posted to the two online subscription writing sites I use. So far, there’s been 433 chapter reviews, all of which help to improve my writing and tweak the story. Here’s the synopsis:

1539534550Terrorist groups such as Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah have flourished in recent years with new recruits joining them and ISIS-affiliates at an alarming rate. Blended operations by various Asian countries have forced the groups to work together to identify a new operational base.

They seek an island nation to call home, one where they can plot against countries who oppose their ideals. They found a target, a small nation-state, perfect for their needs: The Republic of Singapore.

Before anyone can respond, the ambassadors of the United States, Great Britain, and Australia are kidnapped from their residences in Singapore. Right index fingers of each victim are sent as a warning. Any attempt to recover the ambassadors will result in the removal of additional body parts.

Bedlam Charlie team leader, Evelyn Evinrude, leads the group to rescue the ambassadors and capture the local leaders of Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah. Can Bedlam succeed or will events escalate, resulting in more deaths?

In addition to working on Carnage in Singapore, I’ve also started on the finale of the four-book series, Ultimate Escalation. Just the first chapter is completed, and ten reviewers have provided their comments. Here’s the synopsis:

1539535798Punjabi militants seek to distance themselves from Indian and Pakistani dominance and interference. With the dissolution of British India in 1947, families were ripped apart as the Punjabi region was split between the two countries. Limited attacks within each country caused further persecution and heartache.

The militants have no idea how to achieve their desires–until the appearance of Vladimir Aleksandr Nikolai, a disgraced Spetnaz colonel. He offers the militants a means to spark a conflict between the two nuclear powers.

Russian subs sold on the black market and manned by Iranian and Russian sailors will surface off the coasts of the two countries and destroy Karachi and Mumbai. Propaganda machines will levy accusations against each country, leading to escalation of hostilities, pushing the countries to the brink of nuclear war.

The Bedlam organization fields their three teams to counter the violence and seek to restore calm before it’s too late. Will they be successful or will South Asia become a smoking ruin?

Perhaps next week I’ll include a snippet from one of these and also tell you about a couple of other stories I’m working on.

Books I’m Reading

I just finished an exciting story last night, The Patmos Enigma: An Archaeological Thriller by Ken Fry. I’ll provide my comments next time, But I will mention I can’t wait to grab another of his books!

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 for various posts, 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

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 Russell Moran

This week, I’d like to introduce you to Russell Moran, the author of twelve novels and five non-fiction works. A lawyer and a veteran of the U.S. Navy, Russell lives on Long Island, New York, with his wife, Lynda.

Let’s learn more about him:

RFM Photo from SC News TWOWhat are your ambitions for your writing career? To write as many high quality books as my years allow me. Emphasis on “high Quality.”

Which writers inspire you?  Nelson DeMille, Stephen King, Estelle Ryan, Kristin Hannah

So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) The Gray Ship is Book One of The Time Magnet series. (Number one Amazon Best-Seller, and recipient of a Kirkus Best Indie Books of 2013. Also won four other awards.)

The Thanksgiving Gang is Book Two of The Time Magnet series.

A Time of Fear is Book Three of The Time Magnet series.Time Magnet Series

The Skies of Time is Book Four of The Time Magnet series.

The Keepers of Time is Book Five of The Time Magnet series.

The Shadows of Terror is Book One of The Patterns series.

The Scent of Revenge is Book Two of The Pattern Series

A Reunion in Time is a time travel novel, but not in The Time Magnet Series.

Sideswiped, a legal thriller, is Book One of the Matt Blake Series.

The Reformers is Book Two of the Matt Blake Series.

The President is Missing is Book Three of the Matt Blake Series.

Robot Depot, published in August, is a novel about our automated future.

A Climate of Doubt, a terrorism thriller. May 2018.

The Maltese Incident, is Book One of the Harry and Meg Series, June of 2018.

The Violent Sea, Sequel to The Maltese Incident – Coming soon.

I also published five nonfiction books: Justice in America: How it Works—How it Fails; The APT Principle: The Business Plan That You Carry in Your Head; Boating Basics: The Boattalk Book of Boating Tips; If You’re Injured: A Consumer Guide to Personal Injury Law; How to Create More Time.

 Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? All my books include a strong male and a strong female character. Not without flaws (As in Sideswiped, where the two lovers discover they both once had problems with drugs and alcohol.

The Shadows of TerrorWhat are you currently working on and what is it about? The Violent Sea, a sequel to The Maltese Incident. It’s about time travel, and as always, two strong characters who compliment each other.

What drew you to write in this genre? I’ve always been fascinated by time travel, in that it allows the author to completely suspend reality and speculate on what may have been, or what might be.

How much research do you do? A lot. I try to make my fantastic stories believable by anchoring them in solid facts, including history. I don’t know what writers ever did without Google.

Have you written works in collaboration with other writers, and if so: why did you decide to collaborate and did it affect your sales? No. I’ve served as a beta reader and editor for a few other authors but haven’t collaborated.

When did you decide to become a writer? In 2012, after listening for the umpteenth time to my wife asking me, “When are you going to write a novel?” I’ve been a writer all my life, mostly as a legal journalist, but fiction began with The Gray Ship, begun in 2012 and published in 2013.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Yes, full time.

How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? I try to write every day, except for those days when I’m consumed by marketing. I do not have a specific time that I write. I look at what’s ahead in my day and then decide to hit the keyboard.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? 2,000 words a day when working on a first draft. No number allocation for rewrites.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? Computer. I can’t believe that Nelson DeMille, as great as he is, writes on yellow pads.

Where do your ideas come from? This is a great question and I wish I had an answer. I just sit (or walk) and think. Suddenly an idea shows up. I start to ask “what if,” and a few months later a book shows up. I look back at all my books and for the life of me I can’t recall how the story popped up. Maybe Stephen King is right—stories are like fossils and it’s the writer’s job to unearth them.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I am what I call an In-Betweener, halfway between a strict outliner and a “panster,” who writes from the seat of his pants. I keep trying to outline, but the story suddenly takes me off my outline in a different direction.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Being “stuck,” when the wonderful story idea you had suddenly sucks and it’s hard to repair it. I have a book project like that right now. I hate it. Will I expect readers to like it?

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Being stuck. See my above response.Sideswiped

What is the easiest thing about writing? Getting to know my characters. They become like old friends.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? About six months.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? I refuse to acknowledge the existence of writer’s block. See my responses above about “being stuck,” which is different from writer’s block. Once I can see a story in front of me I just charge ahead and the words flow out my fingertips. My tip? Keep on writing.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors. See my response to number 2 above.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? I love to read on my Kindle (or iPhone).

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I proof and edit my own books, and also have two editors to find my (many) mistakes.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? Yes, let it stew. When you come back to it it’s a fresh story, and time to murder your darlings.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? I think so, at least that’s what professional cover designers keep telling me. My simple requirement is that it should grab the eye and create intrigue.

How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both) My next book will be my first traditionally published novel, thanks in no small part to Randall Krzak, who told me all about the publisher.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I could write a book on this question alone. Indie publishers have come into their own as the brilliant writer Hugh Howey has noted. I know a lot of writers who signed their rights away to a small publisher and are stuck without marketing.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? I’d consider it, although I haven’t given it much thought.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Get reviews and keep at it.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? 50 percent.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Most “bad” reviews are really not reviews at all but “hits,” from people with an agenda I can’t control. In three-star reviews, however, there is useful critical information.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? A woman came up to my table at a book signing and said she had been looking forward to buying my book. She then walked off with it without paying. I later found out that she suffered from dementia. I hope she remembers my book.

A Climate of DoubtWhat’s your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you? I do Twitter and Facebook all the time, but I’m not sure I see any results.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing? Don’t put it off, just write. You can’t edit a document that doesn’t exist.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? No, I haven’t but I probably should.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? Email.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I wish I paid more attention to my sub-titles. They’re great for marketing.

What do you think of “trailers” for books, and do you have a trailer/will you create one for your own work? I think trailers are great, but just be careful not to spend too much. I did one for The Gray Ship, and it seemed to help. Cost me $250, which I think is cheap.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why? Yes, if you have a reasonable expectation that the done will promote you.

If you hired someone else to format your work, how did you select them and what was your experience? After Createspace got out of the formatting business I’ve hired designers/formatters for about $500. My next self-published book will be done by myself with the software Vellum (but you need to have a Mac).

How do you relax? I read and write.

What is your favorite motivational phrase. “You can avoid reality, but you can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” Ayn Rand

What is your favorite quote? “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekov

What is your favorite movie and why? The Godfather, I and II. Nothing has come close.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t smoke.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? Abraham Lincoln, the image of greatness. He even made it into my first novel.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Always find ways to improve your craft.

Where do you see publishing going in the future? Self-publishing and small publishers will blend in many ways.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse? It’s a gift, but sometimes it feels like a curse. However, I can’t imagine my life without the joy of writing.

The Maltese IncidentIs there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content? Keeping dates and numbers straight. I try to force myself to type in numbers and dates into a separate document that I can search on.

Did you come across any specific challenges in writing?  What would you do differently the next time? No

What do your fans mean to you? Everything. At a book signing, a couple of ladies walked up to me and asked if certain characters, by name, will appear in future books. Made my day. My biggest fan unfortunately is off the grid and doesn’t even own a computer or smart phone. She thinks Amazon is a river. But she always praises me in public whenever we meet.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day? Creating characters and scenes lies before me.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you? Yes, The Edge of Sadness, by Edwin O’Connor. I was blown away by the author’s use of words, and the way he wove a beautiful story without a lot of action. From then on I started my library. I was a high school sophomore at the time.

What motivated you to become an indie author? I went through a few weeks of querying and pitching and then decided that I’d go it on my own. My favorite response came 30 seconds after I hit send, saying the usual crap about my fine talent but I was just not a right fit for them. I’d rather talk to myself, because I don’t BS myself.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Yes, The Gray Ship, like it was yesterday.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? My characters tell me who they are and create their own dialog. Sound weird but it’s true.

Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas. Once a story idea pops into my head I jot down “beats” usually asking the “what if” question.

Where is your favorite place to write? My library, which is also my office – With a stand-up desk I might add.

What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors? I strongly recommend the Author Marketing Club, amc.com, as well as Writer’s Digest and its tutorials.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into Russell’s writing journey. Follow him at: https://www.morancom.com/

Stayed tuned for another author interview soon!

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved