Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, June 23, 2019

Happy Summer Solstice! We celebrated by setting up a stall at the Falkland festival, an annual event. In addition to selling a few candles, eight copies of some of Sylvia’s poetry was sold, along with two signed copies of The Kurdish Connection and Dangerous Alliance. Happy days!

The weather cooperated a few days this week so painting continued on the fence. It’s transforming from its weather-beaten gray to a forest oak.  Still plenty to do, but at last some progress has been made. A morning shower is forecast, but if it doesn’t materialize or if it does but isn’t heavy, perhaps I’ll get some more painting done. If I can’t, there’s always a stone wall needing a good power spray to rejuvenate the colors.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on June 23rd. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Justus G Schottel, [Schottelius], German poet; Giambattista Vico, Italian philosopher and historian; Irvin S Cobb, Ky, writer/humorist (Old Judge Priest); Ernst Rowohlt, German publisher (Rowohlt-Verlag); Anna Akhmatova, Russian poet; Vladislav Vančura, Czech writer (Rozmarné léto); Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Turkish poet, novelist, recognized as one of the most important representatives of modernism in Turkish literature (A Mind at Peace, The Time Regulation Institute); Anthony Veiller, American writer (Night of Iguana, Moulin Rouge); Hans C Branner, Danish writer (Two Minutes of Silence); Carleton Coon, American anthropologist (What in the World); Wolfgang Koeppen, German author (Death in Rome); Paulus Akkerman [Paul fen Nijenborn], Frisian writer (Each om Each); Jacques Rabemananjara, Hungarian author/vice-president (Antsa); Michael Shaara, American writer (Killer Angels); Urs Jaeggi, Swiss sociologist and writer; Roger McDonald, Australian author; Kjell Albin Abrahamson, Swedish journalist and writer; Darhyl S. Ramsey, American author; and Maggie Greenwald, American film director and writer.

Was anyone familiar to you? There might be at least a couple familiar ones. 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

Stay tuned for my online book tour, which begins on June 25th. Click on the following link for more information: https://www.silverdaggertours.com/tour-sign-ups/the-bedlam-series-tour-sign-ups

My Work in Progress

carnage in singapore-001(1)The new cover for Carnage in Singapore, which will be released soon by Solstice Publishing, is now ready. Here’s another snippet: 

Alone in a corner of the ferry’s deck, the two men leaned over the railing. Umar finished the last of his cigarette and flicked the glowing remains into the water.

Joko glanced around. “What’s the next step?”

“We’ll meet with a Singapore police contact. He advises me on matters of interest to our cause. Afterward, we’ll join a friend who will help us with our next task.”

The Sindo Ferry docked an hour after departing Sekupang. They scampered off the vessel and joined other passengers heading to immigration. They waited their turn and stepped up to the desk.

The official glowered at them. “What is your purpose for visiting Singapore? How long?”

Umar placed their passports, completed disembarkation cards, and return tickets on the desk. “We came to visit the shopping mall.” He pointed at Joko. “My friend has never visited Singapore, and we thought we’d make the journey. We have return tickets to Batam Island in three days.”

***

The officer shook his head. “No names.” He gestured at the box. “The information you requested is under the chocolates.”

Umar fished a small paper bag out of a pocket and placed it beside the candy. “A small gift for sharing your sweets with us.”

The man slid the bag off the table and underneath. Leaning back, he inspected the contents, a smile growing across his face. “A fair trade.” He drained his cup and stood. “Enjoy your stay. I must return to the office.”

Umar turned to Joko. “Go get two drinks to take away. I’ll find out what he left for us.”

After Joko left, Umar lifted the plastic tray from the box. Underneath, a white envelope. Inside, a single sheet of paper, with an address. Umar shoved the paper in his pocket and helped himself to another Malaysian chocolate. He placed the cover on the package and tucked it under his arm. He spotted Joko returning with two cups and joined him.

“Did he provide what you wanted?” Joko nodded toward the box as he sipped on his beverage.

Umar tossed the container in a nearby trashcan. “Yes. Now we meet with someone else. When we join him, I’ll explain everything.”

More next time.

With my external activities this past week, work on A 1541181671Cartel’s Revenge slowed, although I’ll post the next chapter today to the two subscription writing sites I use. There’s been 189 chapter reviews thus far. Plenty of excellent suggestions to choose from!

Once Carnage in Singapore is released, I’ll begin adding snippets from A Cartel’s Revenge. In the meantime, if you haven’t read the synopsis, here you go:

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

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

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

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

Books I’m Reading

I didn’t have a chance this week to gather my thoughts regarding my latest reading. I hope to provide one or two reviews 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

The Kurdish Connection

Randall’s Ramblings, June 16, 2019

Happy Father’s Day wherever you are! 

Hope you have a great one!

It’s been a busy week. Between dashing outdoors to get some yard work in during the brief sunshine interludes, to writing on two works-in-progress, the week sailed past.

A pair of seagulls decided the cat munchies we have outside for our four-legged family were very tasty. They make regular appearances, stealing a few pieces before flying away, usually chased by Lola, Hope, or Tommy. Charlie’s too timid and runs away, while Flora is always busy visiting the neighbors, particularly their children.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on June 16th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays): John Cleveland, English poet; Adam Smith, Scottish economist (Wealth of Nations) and moral philosopher (date of baptism); Mary Katharine Goddard, American printer and publisher; Salawat Yulayev, Bashkir national hero, poet; Scato Gocko de Vries, Dutch paleographer/librarian; Fritz Schulz, German law historian (Classical Novel Law); Theo[dorus J] Thijssen, Dutch writer (Kees the boy); William Fitzgerald Jenkins, author (Time Tunnel, Land of Giants); Murray Leinster, American author; Nelson Doubleday, American publisher (Doubleday); John Hadfield, author/publisher (Love on a Branch Line); Katharine Graham, American newspaper publisher (Washington Post); ohn Howard Griffin, American photographer, journalist and author (Black Like Me); Joachim Nowotny, writer; August Willemsen, Dutch poet/translator; Erich Segal, author (Love Story, Oliver’s Story); Joyce Carol Oates, novelist (Garden of Earthly Delights); Torgny Lindgren, Swedish writer; Hans-Peter Hammel, Swiss columnist and writer; Doane Perry, American musician, composer, and author (Jethro Tull); Scott Alexander, American screenwriter; and Ann Shoket, American magazine editor.

Was anyone familiar to you? There might be at least a couple familiar ones. 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

It’s not too late to sign up for my online book tour, which begins on June 25th. Click on the following link for more information and to sign up: https://www.silverdaggertours.com/tour-sign-ups/the-bedlam-series-tour-sign-ups

My Work in Progress

carnage in singapore-001(1)The new cover for Carnage in Singapore, which will be released soon by Solstice Publishing, is now ready. Here’s the synopsis: Terrorist 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 the meantime, here’s another snippet:

Evelyn gulped water, trying to cool off after her stint in the Weapons Training Simulator System. She wiped the back of her neck with a damp cloth and relaxed at one of the weapon-laden tables.

Barbara, dressed in a black tank top and matching cargo pants, slid into an adjacent chair to wait for her turn in the simulator. “Hey Ev, the baddie almost killed you in your last round.” She chuckled as pointed an imaginary pistol at her boss.

“Almost is the operative word.” Evelyn grinned. “This new simulator is superior to our old one, providing better scenarios.”

“Don’t forget the use of our own weapons rather than the unrealistic tethered ones.”

Evelyn nodded. “I must thank Harrison for coordinating with the other Bedlam units to acquire this for us.” She pulled the magazine from her SIG Sauer P226 and stood. “I better reload my mags. The CO2 gas provides an excellent recoil feel, even though they’re only lasers.”

“Doesn’t replace an outdoor range, but you’ve made it easy for us to train every day without making the trip to Wagga Wagga.” Barbara rubbed her stomach. “Not sure I care about the impulse device we’re wearing to simulate being hit. Hurts like the bloody dickens. If it happens again, I’ll throw a wobbly.”

“We wanted as much realism as possible.” Evelyn laughed. “Beats someone using a paintball gun to shoot at us. Those things hurt and can injure without protective gear. You end up with huge red welts and bruises.” She gestured toward the simulator. “One more go for each of us and back to the office. I’m sure last night’s attack is generating plenty of questions, and someone will be waiting for us to provide answers.”

More next week.

Despite another week packed with external stuff, I managed to complete chapter fourteen of A 1541181671Cartel’s Revenge and post it to the two subscription writing sites I use. There’s been 169 chapter reviews thus far. Plenty of excellent suggestions to choose from!

Here’s the synopsis:

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

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

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

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

I’ll start including snippets once Carnage in Singapore is published.

angolan cole-revised3I mentioned last time I was collaborating with Michael Maxwell, the author of the Cole Sage mystery series and other novels. The cover is now ready for our first novel: Xavier Sear: Angola. The first two chapters have now been completed. When the task is impossible, Xavier Sear is your only hope!  Join Sear as he reunites with Joao, a former Portuguese Army commander as they attempt to rescue the son of a prominent Angolan politician.

More to follow, including a complete synopsis, as we continue to progress with this adventure. 

 

Books I’m Reading

I finished reading Five Weeks last night, another gripping true story novel by David P. Perlmutter, the award-winning author of Wrong Place Wrong Time–soon to be a movie.

Follow the adventures of a London real estate agent as he switches careers in preparation for settling down with his fiancé. As part of his training, he’s sent to Pennsylvania for five weeks. Things begin going downhill as soon as he arrives and meets his temporary new boss.

This is another well-written true story, with characters you’ll love or hate. While a few readers found some of the language to be a bit strong, it fits reality. Once you begin reading, you’ll become immersed in the story and won’t want to put this one down!

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, June 9, 2019

Well, the rain has done it again, causing the cancellation of a street party as no one wanted to get soaked. At least everything has greened up nicely. Now, for a bit of sunshine for more than a couple of hours at a time and perhaps I could get some more outdoor work done–this year!

I’ve been doing a bit of tweaking of some of the pages on my website. If you get a chance, I’d greatly appreciate your feedback.

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

Henricus Hondius, Dutch etcher/publisher; John Howard Payne, American actor, playwright (Fair Warning), author and creator of the hit song “Home! Sweet Home!”; Bertha von Suttner, Austrian novelist/pacifist (Nobel 1905); Rudolf Borchardt, writer; Samuel N Behrman, American screenwriter (Tale of 2 Cities, Daddy Long Legs); sobel June Braybrooke, English novellist; John Gillespie Magee, Jr., American poet and aviator; George Axelrod, playwright (Breakfast at Tiffany, Bus Stop); Keith Laumer [Anthony LeBaron], American sci-fi author (Retief’s War); Lin[wood] [Vrooman] Carter, American sci-fi author (Thongor of Lemuria); Charles Webb, American writer (The Graduate); Joe Haldeman, American sci-fi author (The Forever War); Gregory Maguire, American fantasy writer; Patricia Cornwell, American author ( Kay Scarpetta crime novels); Aaron Sorkin, American screenwriter and playwright (A Few Good Men, The West Wing); and Gilad Atzmon, Israeli jazz musician and author.

Was anyone familiar to you? There might be at least a couple familiar ones. 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

It’s not too late to sign up for my online book tour, which begins on June 25th. Click on the following link for more information and to sign up: https://www.silverdaggertours.com/tour-sign-ups/the-bedlam-series-tour-sign-ups

My Work in Progress

1539534550Things are moving forward with Carnage in Singapore. My publisher should be providing a new cover shortly, which I’ll proudly display. In the meantime, here’s another snippet:

They weaved their way along the twisting road, lost in their thoughts. Ahead, a small clearing was tucked among the trees.

When Umar stopped, Joko jumped out of the cab and inspected the chosen site. “Perfect. Let’s unpack the largest crate and set up.”

Umar pointed to the smaller crate. “What about them?”

“Not now.” Joko shook his head. “Those contain the Qassams.”

The seven men made short work of the task. Crowbars in hand, they pried off the lid, revealing packing material and an assortment of small electrical components. After they had scooped out the items, a plywood platform appeared. Underneath the wood, three Grad rockets were nestled in protective wrapping.

The workmen carried the bases and launch tubes to a spot where Joko waited beside three locations etched into the sand —one for each rocket. Under Joko’s guidance, the men set up the stands and retrieved the Grads from their resting place.

Satisfied with the set-up, Joko wiped the sweat from his brow and glanced at his wrist. “Allah willing, we shall strike in his name.”

***

The three projectiles screamed across the water in a high arc. At the starting line, the drivers waited for the flashing lights to indicate the beginning of the race.

In one of the spectator stands, an elderly English woman frowned at a faint sound in the distance, hard to hear over the revving of the engines. She squinted at something streaking through the sky and losing its trajectory. “Oh, darling. Look!” She tugged at her husband’s sleeve to gain his attention.

“What is it, Dorothy? The race’s about to start.”

“Fireworks. How lovely. A fabulous way to celebrate the occasion.”

Her husband shaded his eyes with a hand. His mouth dropped open and snapped shut. “Jesus Christ! Those aren’t fireworks. Run! Someone’s attacking the—”

A Grad plunged into the grandstand, erupting with a massive explosion. Spectators screamed in terror, their cries cut short when they were blown apart or became engulfed in flames.

Two other missiles smashed into the marina, sending enormous plumes of water, splintered boats, and body parts into the air.

Pandemonium erupted as people fled for their lives.

More next time.

Despite another week packed with external stuff, I managed to complete chapter thirteen of A 1541181671Cartel’s Revenge and post it to the two subscription writing sites I use. There’s been 145 chapter reviews thus far. Plenty of excellent suggestions to choose from!

I recently requested some blurbs for Carnage in Singapore to use in promoting the story. Michael Maxwell, the author of thirteen novels, including nine in his Cole Sage mystery series, contacted me after reading the third chapter. He told me, “This is good stuff!” and asked if I would consider co-authoring a book with him.

After reading through his proposal, I agreed. We’re currently writing the first novel in a new series with an international setting, Phillip Sear: Angola.  Watch for the cover and synopsis in an upcoming post.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished Into Spring: The Next Generation, by Larry Landgraf.

The sequel to Into Autumn continues the daunting efforts of those living in Peaceful Valley. With a disparity between the number of single man and women, Sean and Robbie leave the valley, determined to find spouses. Meanwhile, a new family permitted to move into the valley, attempts to push for a place of worship causing issues when the earlier residents rebuff the proposal in favoring of more pressing requirements.

Larry provides another plot full of twists and turns with realistic characters showing how to survive their ordeals. Despite challenge after challenge, the Peaceful Valley inhabitants deal with what’s thrown at them. Several late nights as I couldn’t put it down until I finished. Now that I have, I can’t wait to read the third installment. Well done!

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

© Copyright 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, May 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

News About My Published Work

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

TKC

DA-3D-cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Work in Progress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps more next time.

Books I’m Reading

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

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

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

© Copyright 2019 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, May 5, 2019

Happy Cinco de Mayo day!  

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

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

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

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

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

My Work in Progress

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Noah inched upward to peer over the hood.

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

Both men heard footsteps rushing away from them.

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

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

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

Perhaps more next time.

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

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

 

 

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

My Work in Progress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Ollie and Barbara focused their attention on Alf.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps more next time.

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps I’ll include a bit more next time.

Books I’m Reading

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

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

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

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 21, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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