Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, June 24, 2018

The occasional shower over the past few days brought welcome relief from the temperatures in the 90s. Yesterday, we had a high of 73, which was very pleasant and still meant we could run around with shorts and t-shirts. The forecast is supposed to be similar for the next few days, so we’re beginning summer with mild weather. Wonder how long it will last?

Are you celebrating a birthday today? If so, here are some folks from the writing world who were born on June 24th (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

St. John of the Cross, Spanish Carmelite mystic, saint, priest and poet; Samuel Ampzing, poet (Taelbericht der Neth Spellinge); Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d’Argens, French writer; Ambrose Bierce, American writer and satirist (Devil’s Dictionary, Nuggets & Dust); Aleksei M Remizov, Russian writer (Iveren); Bruce Marshall, writer; Kurt Kusenberg, German writer (Wein Auf Lebenszeit); Arseny Tarkovsky, Russian poet; Ernesto Sábato, Argentinian writer; Norman Cousins, editor (Saturday Review); John Ciardi, poet/critic (translated Dante); William B. Ziff, Jr., American publishing executive; Pete Hamill, journalist (NY Post); Lawrence Block, American writer; Julia Kristeva, Bulgarian-French philosopher, psychoanalyst, and novelist; Gerhart Roth, Austrian writer; Mercedes R Lackey, American sci-fi author (Arrow’s Fall, Magic’s Pawn); Anatoly Borisovich Jurkin, Russian writer; Louisa Leaman, English author; and Brian Fitzgerald, American writer.

Did you recognize anyone? Even if you didn’t, I hope you have a fantastic birthday!

 

My Work in Progress

FINALIST - 2018 Breakthrough Novel Awards

In case you missed last week’s post, on June 15th, the winner of the 2018 Breakthrough Novel Awards was announced. Amy J. Markstahler’s Life Happens on the Stairs grabbed the top prize.

The other finalists were: Mari Clark for The Road to Dusty Death, Barbara Kline’s Inside the Enemy, yours truly for Dangerous Alliance, and Chio Ojukwu’s To Cross a Blade and a Dagger.

I sent out several Dangerous Alliance submissions over the past week. Now that things have settled down with this novel, I can concentrate on the follow-on, Carnage in Singapore. I completed chapter four and posted it to the two online subscription writing sites I use. Since I’m less familiar with the settings for this novel, I also spent a great deal of time doing online research. I’m finding plenty of useful material so I can create the appropriate scenes. 

Here’s another snippet from Carnage in Singapore:

Semi-conscious, she listened to two people examining her. Through half-closed eyelids, she watched the two white-coated medical personnel until the agony increased. She closed her eyes and continued to listen to the conversation.

“Must be in terrible pain.”

Did a male doctor say this? Yes, I’m in agony … but the nightmares are worse.

“Yes, doctor.”

A female nurse?

“Shall I increase the morphine? It might ease her situation until the swelling subsides. Poor thing—I wonder what attacked her?”

“Yes, increase her medication—one unit. We’re both aware of the rumors about strange occurrences taking place on one of the smaller islands. Perhaps, she came from there.” The doctor cleared his throat. “How many is this now? Four? Five? The authorities must investigate before we’re overrun.”

***

They tied her arms to rings chained to the wall. Someone shoved a wad of material in her mouth so she couldn’t scream.

A rough hand grabbed her shoulder. Heat seared her arm. She smelled something acrid—burning flesh!

She spat out the wad. “Ieeee!”

The woman struggled against her bonds. A hand grabbed her hair and yanked her head back. A face appeared—sallow complexion, long, stringy black hair, hazel eyes. A knife came into focus, aimed at her right eye.

She closed her eyes and tried to twist away. The hand gripped tighter—pain, so intense as if her hair had been ripped from her head by the roots.

“Noooo!”

Perhaps more next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading The Rising Sea, by one of my favorite authors, Clive Cussler and Graham Brown. Another fascinating read in The Numa Files series, I couldn’t put it down. With Kurt and Joe and the other members of their scientific team trying to find a cause of increasing sea levels, it was another plot with plenty of action and suspected reasons. I won’t do a spoiler alert, but suffice it to say, Clive and Graham have once again created a masterful thread of twists and turns, and plenty of intrigue. I’m looking forward to Kurt and Joe’s next adventure.

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

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. However, this week I had too much research related to real-world writing requirements and therefore didn’t spend any time browsing for new authors. Perhaps 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 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother’s Day to those who are honored by their families and friends on this special day. I know some countries celebrate Mother’s Day on a different day, but in several counties, including the U.S. and Canada, it’s today. Hope you have a great day!

I wasn’t able to post my ramble last weekend. Not that I didn’t want to, but a power outage from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon got in the way.

The Friday started out fine with plenty of sunshine and blue sky. By mid-morning, we were into a windstorm the forecasters accurately predicted. No rain, but gusts up to 65MPH for almost six hours. The result: dozens of tress knocked down or snapped in two. Power and telecommunications lines were severed. A neighbor who still relies on a landline borrowed an old cell phone as he was informed his landline might not be fixed until May 24th.

I’m still picking up branches from our trees so I can finish mowing the grass. Should get this done today, which is a good thing as the grass is growing quickly in our sunny days with moderate temperatures and just the right amount of rainfall.

Are you celebrating a birthday today? If so, here’s a few people from the writing world you share with (compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Adrian Loosjes Pzn, publisher/writer (Mauritius Lijnslager); Alphonse Daudet, French writer (Tartarin of Tarascon); Jos Panhuysen, author; Alfred Earle Birney, poet; Daphne du Maurier, English writer (Rebecca, Parasites); Wallace Breem, British author; Adolf Muschg, Swiss writer (Gruppe Olten); Roger [Joseph] Zelazny, sci-fi author (6 Hugos, Chronicles of Amber); Roch Carrier, Canadian novelist (The Hockey Sweater); Bruce Chatwin, England, writer (On the Black Hill); Betsy Finley Ashton, broadcast journalist/author/lecturer; Armistead Maupin, American author; Stephen R Donaldson, American sci-fi author (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Lord Foul’s Bane); and Kathleen Jamie, Scottish poet. Recognize anyone? Even if you don’t, I hope you have a fantastic birthday!

My Work in Progress

Editing of the paper copy of Dangerous Alliance was finished yesterday. All I need to do now is create a cast of characters to aid readers. Here’s what a recent reader and author had to say about Dangerous Alliance: “An exciting roller coaster of emotion, action, and a kinship borne of dedication against impossible odds. This tale will not let you down. An exciting and suspenseful story of strong men and iron women committed to the truth and each other in a battle to preserve the world from those who take life without thought.”

Stay tuned for more information regarding the release of Dangerous Alliance. In the meantime, I better get cracking on Carnage in Singapore, A Cartel’s Revenge, and New World Revolution. Look for a snippet from one of these works in progress next time.

Books I’m Reading

Last weekend’s power outage stopped me from finishing a review of another novel from David Wood’s Dane Maddock’s adventure series. This review, plus one or two others, will be provided next Sunday.

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

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites.

End of The Lime; The Beginning – a website dedicated to poetry by J.S.T. Louise.

Texas Outlaw Poet – check out this site by poet/author Jeff Callaway.

That brings us to a close for another week. Hope you’ve 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, May 7, 2017

Brilliant sunshine bouncing off the one-foot waves this morning created a wall of intense light, making it difficult to see. When my eyes could refocus, not a cloud could be seen. A crisp morning with a slight breeze to be sure, but very welcome after several days with thick, heavy clouds and blustering winds.

And so begins another Sunday on the lake as the waves continue to smooth the sand, having removed the stones which infiltrated over the past couple of weeks. Now there is a smooth beach, untouched by humans, with a thin line of nature’s refuse along the shore. Easy to clean up and make the beach perfect!

My Work in Progress

In case you missed it, The Lakeshore Guardian, a monthly newspaper on the Thumb of Michigan provided a review of The Kurdish Connection. It’s now linked on my publisher’s website, Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC (just click on their name to link to the article). They also added a worthy sentence: “Randall Krzak’s novel of the Kurd’s struggle against Turkey, THE KURDISH CONNECTION, is so relevant that it reads like today’s headline news.”

Despite a myriad of external tasks this week, I still managed to squeeze in more writing on Dangerous Alliance. The first draft of chapter eighteen is now complete and will be posted in the next couple of days so my reviewers can check it out.  All other works on other projects are on hold until I at least complete Dangerous Alliance‘s overall first draft.

Here’s another snippet for you:

Light filtered through narrow slats nailed across a window. Dust particles shimmered in the sun’s beams, creating a pattern in the air. A body slumped on the concrete floor stirred.

Ooh. Aah.

He pushed himself to a kneeling position. A whimper escaped from swollen lips. Eyes mere slits, black and blue streaks surrounded them. Dried blood crusted his upper lip. He collapsed again.

Soo struggled to his feet. He wrapped the blanket closer and glanced around the room. A closed gunmetal gray door was centered on the wall opposite the blocked window. Near the door, an armless chair, his clothes in a neat stack.

A door slammed. Footsteps. Voices, growing louder.

“What’s the meaning of this? Who are you? Why did you kidnap me?”

Four men, faces hidden behind latex party masks formed a semi-circle in front of him. One retrieved the chair, placing it under the light. “Sit.”

Perhaps more next week.

Books I’m Reading

I finished David L. Golemon’s The Mountain: An Event Group Thriller.  The tenth book in the series, for me this was one of his best. While very different from other books in the series, this one centered on a historical artifact, one of the first obtained by the Group. Set during the Civil War, President Lincoln sends a group of Yankees and Rebels on what might possibly be a total folly.

Experience the intense emotions of the Northerners and Southerners as they steam away from the fighting. Escaping from British and French warships, they eventually end up in the Black Sea. Their destination–Mount Ararat and the fabled Ark. A professor who has witnessed the Ark first hand is sent with the team (along with some foreign spies who infiltrated the professor’s team), which begins to experience untimely and inexplicable deaths, even before landing on the shores of Trabzon.

While a bit slow to start, the pace rapidly picks up and like David’s other books, I couldn’t put it down. This isn’t just a tale about Noah’s Ark but also about the beliefs and devastation the Civil War launched upon the country. A worthy read!

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

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites.

ReadersAbode – Don’t forget to check this site out. Created by a group of writers spread across several continents, there’s sure to be something of interest. Thus far, the site contains short stories and poems written by its members, several blog posts and interviews with established authors. Or check it out on Twitter: @readersabode. The next bi-weekly posting will be out sometime today.

Once again, we’ve reached the end of another ramble.  Hope you’ve found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing.  Until the next time, thank you for reading!

© Copyright 2017 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.

 

 

Randall's Ramblings

Guardian Book Review – The Kurdish Connection

Michigan author Randall Krzak’s recently released novel titled The Kurdish Connection is a fast-paced Middle East tale filled with intriguing characters and a plot brimming with such vivid imagery the reader will become engrossed in an adventure on the other side of the world. The Kurdish Connection centers on the story of Iraqi Kurdish scavengers, who in their daily struggle for survival, uncover a cache of chemical weapons.

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According to Krzak’s website, www.randallkrzak.com, these Iraqi Kurdish scavengers “offer the weapons to Kurdish rebels in Turkey and Syria to assist in their quest to free an imprisoned leader and create a unified homeland. After receiving a tip form an unlikely source, the newly formed Special Operations Bedlam team is called to arms. Cant he team recover the weapons before it’s too late?”

The Kurdish Connection is Krzak’s debut thriller and will be part of a four-book series. Krzak is a U.S. Army veteran and retired senior civil servant, spending almost 30 years in Europe, Africa, Central America, and the Middle East; Krzak’s knowledge of the Middle East has offered him a firsthand glimpse into a war-torn region making him an expert at creating authentic characters and bringing this area of the world to life. When an international team is sent on an impossible mission, readers will find themselves rooting for the Special Operations Bedlam team to successfully locate and secure numerous sarin gas canisters before these chemical weapons fall into the wrong hands. Concurrently, readers will also be silently urging some of the Iraqi Kurdish scavengers to make the right decision.

Krzak’s military knowledge has aided him in crafting a believable and powerful story. Secret meetings and a desire for revenge contribute to the intrigue as the Kurds struggle to have their own homeland. Krzak takes his readers on a journey that will leave them wondering if this tale really did happen—or could something similar occur in today’s world?

For ordering information, to schedule an interview with the author, and to learn more about The Kurdish Connection and additional upcoming books, please email author Randall Krzak at rjkrcak@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.randallkrzak.com.

© Copyright 2017 The Lakeshore Guardian, May 2017, Volume 19, Issue 3, Page 3.

The Kurdish Connection

The Kurdish Connection

This summer I hope to publish ‘The Kurdish Connection.’

Here’s a brief summary about the story:

Iraqi Kurdish freedom fighters have uncovered a cache of chemical weapons left over from the previous regime. Wanting to see a united Kurdistan nation, they offer these weapons to fellow Kurds in Turkey and Syria.

The newly formed Bedlam team is rushed into service to try to head off further regional turmoil by locating and recovering these weapons. However, can they manage to do this while keeping the operation entirely hidden and without igniting further clashes?

Team leader Craig Cameron heads a small international team into the three countries to try to recover these weapons before they cause irreparable harm and lead to an international crisis.

Stayed tuned for updates through my weekly “Randall’s Ramblings” which comes out every Sunday.

Blogging 101

Blogging 101 – Day 4.5

Thought I’d do a bit more practicing uploading images and a couple of video clips.  All the participants are regular visitors.  Hope you enjoy!

At Home on the Lake

We’re very fortunate to reside on Lake Huron where we have an abundance (sometimes an over abundance) of visitors.  Some visit year-round, while others only stop by during warm or hot weather.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Male Chipping Sparrow

The  Chipping Sparrow above seemed to be lost as normally they are a summer visitor.  It was still a treat to see–think it would make a great Christmas card!

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Male Red-Bellied Woodpecker

We’ve had four different types of woodpeckers visit.  The guy above isn’t being cooperative to show the red streak running down his belly, hence the name.  We’ve also had his wife (we think–no red on the head) as well as a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Hairy Woodpeckers.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Female Northern Cardinal

A male and female cardinal are year-round visitors, although when the temperature is too high, we rarely see them.  Occasionally, we’ve seen three males and two females at the same time.  The females usually keep back in the trees if other birds are around.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
White Tail Deer

Of course, it’s not just winged visitors who stop by to see what’s for dinner.  This one came on its own, but we’ve had as many as twelve at one time.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Juvenile Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

This one only visits in the warm weather and likes a treat of red-colored sugar water.  We buy something especially designed for the little fella. When he matures, he’ll sport a red patch on his throat.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Male Baltimore Oriole

This male Baltimore Oriole was a bit camera shy but visits again for supper. 

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Male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

A very infrequent visitor, the male Rose-Breasted Grosbeak didn’t seem hungry but wanted to check out the competition.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Male Baltimore Oriole

Told you he’d be back!  We bought a very small swing, just for birds, and cut an orange in half.  Tasty dinner!

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Wild Turkeys

The last of our special visitors for this installment were this pair of wild turkeys. 

OOPS!  Almost forgot–I mentioned at the beginning there were a couple of video clips.  The first one is a female Downy Woodpecker, while the second one features one of our male cardinal, several juncos, and a sparrow.

I hope you enjoyed meetings our friends–we did!

Blogging 101

Blogging 101 -Day Four

A Turkish Treasure

Since I’ve spent a number of years living in various countries, I thought I’d share a visit to one of my favorite locations–the Cappadocia area, located on the Anatolian Plain in Turkey.

The landscape of Cappadocia is probably one of the most unusual found anywhere.  Various shapes and colors abound throughout the region as a result of the elements (wind, snow, rain, extreme temperatures), volcanic action, and an underlying layer of soft rock, which can easily be carved.

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One of the Cappadocia valleys

Until 1955, many people resided in homes carved into the rock. The hills are honeycombed with a variety of tunnels, some so small you need to crawl to get through, while others are large enough to stand upright (as long as you aren’t a modern-day basketball player).  The photos below shows several exposed residences.  Continued erosion caused the soft rock to split, exposing the interiors. As a result, the Turkish government banned living in these areas and rehoused the inhabitants in nearby locations.

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Collapsed Residences
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More Collapsed Residences

Several of the eroded formations are referred to as fairy chimneys.  The darker areas on the tops in the photos below are basalt, remnants from the eruption of now-extinct volcanoes.

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Fairy Chimneys
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More Fairy Chimneys
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Even More Fairy Chimneys

Despite the government ban on residing in the residences, there apparently isn’t a problem with the local farmers using the more accessible areas as a refuge for their sheep.

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Multi-Level Residence Now Inhabited by Sheep

Although Turkey manufacturers a variety of motorized vehicles, sometimes the best way to get around is still on four legs.

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Local Transportation
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More Local Transportation

Of course a visit to Cappadocia isn’t just about scenery.  There are many local handicrafts on display and for sale.  For the adventurous, you can also try your hand at making pottery or weaving a carpet.  Below is our son trying out the potter’s wheel at Chez Galip’s Pottery Shop (several years ago).

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Craig

Chez makes it look so easy:

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Chez Galip

Fancy making your own carpet?  Looks like she has a way to go and could use some help!

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Carpet Making in Avanos

So that ends our whirlwind tour through Cappadocia. 

Hope you’ve enjoyed it!