Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, September 27, 2020

As another months rolls toward the end, leaves are changing color and growth spurts from plants and the lawn are slowing down. Chilly evenings are upon us, with heavy dew most mornings.

At least we’ve gone from rainy August to a more settled September. As Mother Nature continues her never-ending cycle, we’re once again reminded of the miracles which abound around us. Try to take time to enjoy the wonders–you’ll be glad you did.

Do you know who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on September 27th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

John Galle, Flemish engraver and printer; Jacques-Benigne bossuet, French bishop and writer (Louis XIV court preacher); Michael Denis, Austrian poet, bibliographer and lepidopterist; Maria Versfelt [Ida Saint-Elme], Dutch writer, stage actress, and mistress (General Moreau & Marshal Ney); Henri-Frédéric Amiel, Swiss writer (Grains de Mil); Henri-Frédéric Amiel, Swiss writer (Grains de Mil); Alexander Cohen, Dutch anarchist and author; Tryggve Andersen, Norwegian writer (Fra Cancelliraadens Dage; Grazia Deledda, Italian author (Nobel 1926); Cyril Scott, English composer and author (Heroic Suite); Joannes Cornelissen, Dutch historian (Hooft & Tacitus); Vjekoslav Kaleb, Croatian writer (Splendor of the Fabric); William Empson, English poet and critic (Milton’s God); Jim Thompson, American author (The Killer Inside Me); Giles Playfair, English writer; Louis Auchincloss, Lawrence NY, lawyer/novelist (Watchfires); Bernard Waber, American author; Josef Skvorecky, Czechoslovakia, writer and publisher (End of the Nylon Age, The Cowards); Dick Schaap, sportscaster/author (Bo Knows Bo, Instant Replay); Carol Lynn Pearson, American poet and writer; Kay Ryan, American poet (Hide and Seek); and Irvine Welsh, Scottish writer.

Anyone familiar to you? I didn’t spot any names I know. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one and many more to follow!

My Published Work

I found out this week Carnage in Singapore was selected as one of six First in Category winners in the 2019 Chanticleer International Book Awards in the Global Thrillers category.  What an honor and needless to say, I’m thrilled!

If you’d like to check out the  First in Category winners and the Grand Prize winners for all of the categories , head to: Chanticleer.

So what is Carnage in Singapore about?

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?

My Work in Progress

This week, I’ve spent most of my writing time with editing. However, the next manuscript I’m concentrating on writing is Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal.

I’ve only finished the first ten chapters so far, but they’ve received 169 reviews on the two subscription writing sites I use. Plenty of support as I continue my writing journey!

In case you missed an earlier posting of the synopsis, here you go:

Relegated to a desk job at the Pentagon despite his last field mission being a success, Colonel Javier Smith submits his retirement papers. He moves forward with his plans to create a security and investigative agency called the Brusch Agency. The focus will be aiding international clientele.

AJ Bruce, who co-led the mission with Smith, finds herself rooted at CIA Headquarters. Although now in charge of the division responsible for tracking terrorist groups in Latin America, she misses the action from being in the field.

Meanwhile, Alberto Cabrera was one of four terrorists who survived Bruce and Smith’s mission. Also known as Abdul Rahman, he enlists the assistance of the others who escaped and vows to track down those who killed his friends and comrades.

As Javier and AJ grow closer together, will the future hold wedding bells or funerals? Hang onto your hats as the story unfolds.

Next time, I’ll begin including snippets.

That’s all for this week as I didn’t get a chance to write down my thoughts about recent books I read. I hope you found something of interest or at least useful for your own writing. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, September 20, 2020

When I woke up this morning, it was dark and I was pinned to the bed. Was a having a dream? No. Very simple explanations.

Why was it dark? The blinds were pulled to block the morning sunshine–except there wasn’t any. Glancing through the cracks in the blinds, I  could see there wasn’t a glimpse of sunshine, but plenty of dark clouds.

Why couldn’t I move? Another easy answer. A fourteen-pound cat named Tommy was sprawled across one of my shoulders, his head on my pillow. A smaller cat name Flora (or more formally, Lady Flora Fluffbottom), decided my calf was a good prop.

The are just two of the four cats we have with us at the moment. Joining them is Charlie and Hope. Tommy and Charlie were feral, and both are still very skittish. Flora was destined for euthanasia, while Hope came from a no-kill shelter. They’re all part of the family!

So, who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on September 20th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Sergey Aksakov, Russian writer (Semejnaja chronika); Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, Italian journalist, soldier and pacifist (Nobel Peace Prize 1907); Upton Beall Sinclair, American writer (Jungle); Maxwell Perkins, American editor and publisher; Charles Williams, British poet and writer; Rachel Bluwstein, Hebrew poet; Fjodor Panfjorov, Russian author (Volga); Cesare Zavattini, Italian screenwriter (Ladri di Biciclette); Stevie [Florence Margaret] Smith, English poet and novelist (Not Waving but Drowning); Geraldine Clinton Little, Irish poet (A Little Bouquet); Donald Hall, American writer, literary critic and Poet Laureate of the United States; Keith Roberts, English writer (Irish Encounter, Ladies from Hell); George R. R. Martin, American fantasy and sci-fi author (A Song of Ice and Fire); James P[aul] Blaylock, American sci-fi author (Elfin Ship, Homunculus); Javier Marías, Spanish translator and novelist (Corazón tan blanco); and David Allen, American composer and writer.

Anyone familiar to you? I didn’t spot any names I know. 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

This week, I continued to edit Xavier Sear: Angola. As of today, there’s been 511 chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use, an increase of four in the past week. However, all of my regular reviewers have finished the story, so now I’m just seeing new readers pop in.

I’ve now updated half of the chapters as I move through the editing process. Here’s the final snippet before publication:

After their brotherly embrace, Abilio turned to the others. “Senhor João, and Baba Theo, this is my cousin, Soba Ngenda. He’s very brave and will help us find Peter.”

João and Theo shook hands with the grinning Soba before returning to the aircraft, where Nito was unloading their weapons and supplies.

“I will wait here for your return, Theo. The plane will be ready for immediate departure.” He crossed his heart.

“Thank you, Nito.” Theo clasped Nito’s shoulder before helping move their equipment.

Once they stowed everything in the back of the van, they climbed inside. João and Theo squeezed into the back while Abilio sat up front with his cousin.

Theo tapped the back of Soba’s seat. “We’re ready. Let’s go.”

“Yes, Minister Theo.” Soba turned the key.

Click. Click.

Soba pursed his lips and tried again.

Vroom!

A cloud of black smoke blew over the vehicle in the stiff breeze. After it cleared, Soba drove past the single-story terminal building and out the airport’s exit. He gunned the engine as he pulled onto the two-lane road heading toward the city. “While you wait for your friends to arrive, I arranged rooms at the Hotel Kawissa—the finest hotel in the city.”

“Thank you, Soba.” Theo tapped his fingers on his knee. Hang on, Peter. We’re coming!

Soba weaved through the traffic, leaning on the horn whenever he approached a slow-moving vehicle.

Theo closed his eyes as Soba squeezed shot past a truck and squeezed in front of an oncoming bus. May God protect us!

João and Theo rocked forward when Soba slammed on the brakes.

He pointed to an immense open-sided building with a red corrugated roof. “This is one of Saurimo’s markets.” He grinned. “My brothers are there now—we have four stalls.”

“What do they sell?” João tilted his head to gaze inside the building.

“Many things—cassava, beans, potatoes, corn, and yams.” Soba glanced in the rearview mirror at Theo and lowered his voice. “Other things, too, if the price is right.” He put a finger over his lips. “Five minutes, and we will be at the hotel.”

True to Soba’s prediction, they pulled up in front of a yellow two-story building with gray trim, with a brick and wrought-iron fence surrounding the property. Emblazoned across the front of the building in large blue script was Hotel Kawissa.

Soba stopped the van on the street next to block paving outside the fence.

As the others began to open the doors, Soba shouted, “Wait!” He jerked the wheel, cut across the road and down a side street.

***

They jumped out of the vehicle as the outer door slammed shut. Soba introduced his brothers before gesturing to a tan Casspir mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle.

“Couldn’t you find anything less conspicuous?” João laughed.

Soba shrugged. “We will need the space—my brothers are going to help free Minister Theo’s son.”

“Okay, Soba. But, no more surprises.” Theo suppressed a grin. “Let’s transfer everything and head back to the hotel. We depart for the rendezvous point early.”

“Yes, Minister. I will spend the night with my brothers. Abilio will drive you to the hotel.”

Theo nodded. We’ll be safer with Abilio driving.

After the men transferred everything into the MRAP, Abilio climbed into the van’s driver seat while João and Theo sat in the back. They headed back the way they came.

Before Abilio turned the corner, the darkened sky lit up as if it was midday.

Boom!

A concussion wave rolled over the vehicle. Abilio lost control, and smashed into a parked car.

Theo’s head cracked against the side of the van. Holding his head, he glanced back at the warehouse. Yellow-orange flames and thick, black smoke billowed upward near the building. Who? How? He slumped toward João as he lost consciousness.

This week I also finished and posted chapter ten of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. As with all of my works-in-progress, the chapters are posted to the two subscription writing sites. As of this morning, there’s been fifty-seven chapter reviews. I’ve picked up some new reviewers, which is always a good sign my work is picking up some interest. Great support to help me improve my writing!

In case you missed the synopsis, in an earlier post here it is:

Relegated to a desk job at the Pentagon despite his last field mission being a success, Colonel Javier Smith submits his retirement papers. He moves forward with his plans to create a security and investigative agency called the Brusch Agency. The focus will be aiding international clientele.

AJ Bruce, who co-led the mission with Smith, finds herself rooted at CIA Headquarters. Although now in charge of the division responsible for tracking terrorist groups in Latin America, she misses the action from being in the field.

Meanwhile, Alberto Cabrera was one of four terrorists who survived Bruce and Smith’s mission. Also known as Abdul Rahman, he enlists the assistance of the others who escaped and vows to track down those who killed his friends and comrades.

As Javier and AJ grow closer together, will the future hold wedding bells or funerals? Hang onto your hats as the story unfolds.

I’ll probably start posting snippets of this one next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading Clean Cut Kid by Michael Maxwell. Follow the adventures of Logan Connor as he seeks to re-create himself, changing his boring life into one with a sharp focus, even if it means running toward danger. A loner, he’ll have to learn to trust, even if it’s against his nature.

Michael has created a super story, filled with realistic characters and enough twists and turns to keep even the most avid action-adventure aficionado turning the pages. Unlike so many stories nowadays, he’s also done this without relying on sex and profanity–a great departure from the norm! I look forward to reading more of Logan’s adventures.

I also finished Blair Howard’s latest novel, The Last Straw, which bridges the gap between Harry Starke’s job as a homicide detective and his creation of a private eye business. But what cause Harry to give up a career as a police officer? Was it his latest case, involving the death of a female teenager or something else? You’ll have to grab a copy as I don’t like to spoil anyone’s reading pleasure.

As with all of Blair’s books, this is another well-written novel, with a spell-binding plot, realistic characters and enough twists and turns to keep everyone guessing. So go on, pick up a copy–you know you want to–and you won’t be disappointed!

Finally, I completed my reading of Yufu’s Run by Rayner Ye. Yufu has a lucrative job fishing for diamonds on behalf of a government organization. Before long, he’s embroiled in a conspiracy which results in him being accused of a terrorist attack. All he wants to do is retirement with his wife and children? Will he be able to do so or will he be on the run for the rest of his life?

Rayner has created a futuristic plot pitting good versus evil. Packed with plenty of action and intrigue, this one will have you turning the pages.

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

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, September 13, 2020

The nights are closing in, dawn sleeps in each morning, clouds and rain are a constant companion, and leaves are beginning to turn color. No doubt about it–fall is approaching. And fast!

Despite the changing weather, roses are still budding, new flowers have popped out on our clematis vines, and several new hydranga blooms are threatening to burst from the shelter of their leaves. It’s always interesting to watch how Mother Nature changes the landscape in a never-ending cycle.

So, who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on September 13th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Alexander Neckam, English theologist and encyclopedist; John Leland, English poet and antiquarian; Daniel Defoe, English novelist (Robinson Crusoe); Arnold Ruge, German political philosopher and writer; Nicolas Beets [Hildebrand], Dutch writer (Camera Obscura) and theologian; Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Austrian writer (The Child of the Parish); Johannes de Koo, Dutch journalist and playwright; Sherwood Anderson, American author and publisher (Winesburg Ohio); Alain LeRoy Locke, African-American writer and philosopher “Father of the Harlem Renaissance”; Pierre Reverdy, French poet (Nord-Sud); J. B. Priestly, English novelist and scriptwriter (The Good Companions, An Inspector Calls); Julian Tuwim, Polish poet and lyricist; Anton Constandse, Dutch anarchist and writer; Hermine Heijermans, Dutch actress, politician and author (Grote Klaas en kleine Klaas); Ray Green, American composer and publisher; Roy Engle, American writer and actor (The Man from Planet X, The Wild Wild West, My Favorite Martian); Roald Dahl, British author (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG); George Weidenfeld, British publisher (Weidenfeld & Nicolson); Reninca [Renée Lauwers], Flemish author (Seed in the Wind); Judith Martin, American author, journalist and columnist (Miss Manners); Noël Godin, Belgian writer and humorist; and Tõnu Õnnepalu, Estonian poet and author.

I’d also like to extend belated happy birthday wishes to America’s oldest World War II veteran, Lawrence Brooks. He turned 111 yesterday! Click here for his story!

Anyone familiar to you? Two stood out for me: Daniel Defoe and Roald Dahl. 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

This week, I continued to edit Xavier Sear: Angola. As of today, there’s been 507 chapter reviews from the two online subscription writing sites I use, an increase of twenty-three in the past week.

As with my previous novels, I’m sifting through the different reviews to identify areas where readers suggests I make changes–whether additions or subtractions. I enjoy this part of the process as I get an excellent picture of what is working and what isn’t. Not only does this impact on my current work-in-progress, it also helps to improve my future stories.

Here’s another snippet:

Hours passed. Namali’s contractions continued about every twenty minutes. Each one was accompanied by a piercing scream as she wrenched the replaced sheet.

Fimi wiped Namali’s forehead after every event, singing a local song in a soft voice. During a break in the contractions, Fimi helped Namali change into somewhat cleaner clothes.

Peter tried to rest on a chair, his head leaning against the tent’s central pole. However, he jumped every time Namali screamed.

“Doc … tor. Help me!” Namali raised her head. “Make the pain go away.”

Peter stepped to the side of the cot and laid a hand on her shoulder. “Soon. Once the contractions become more frequent, it will be time.” He gestured at Fimi. “Together, we will bring your baby into this world.”

“Thank … you, Doc … tor.” Namali gasped and collapsed back on the pillow.

Moments later, she screamed again—louder than before. “It hurts! Make it go away!”

Peter rushed to Namali’s side. With Fimi’s help, they moved Namali into a birthing position. He examined her again.

Blood.

“Doctor?” Fimi held a small bag in her hand. “Should we give some medicine to help?”

“What is it?”

She shrugged. “I do not remember. My mother was a doula, and she made this mixture. It is a herbal remedy she learned from her mother.”

Peter waved a hand. “Not now.” He pointed at the blood. “It will be time soon.”

“Ieeeeeah!”

“The contractions are stronger and quicker. Won’t be long. Help her push.”

A liquid saturated the cot as Namali screamed again.

Fimi grabbed a clean towel and wiped up the fluid.

“The membrane ruptured!” Peter peered at Namali. “I can see the head! Push, Namali, push!”

Namali dug her fingernails into Fimi’s arm.

The doula grimaced and encouraged Namali to push with each contraction.

“It’s coming!”

“Waaaah!

Peter held the tiny baby in his hands. He nodded at Fimi, who wrapped the child in a piece of blanket.

After Peter snipped the umbilical cord, he stepped to Namali’s side. He glanced at her now-peaceful looking face. “Congratulations. You have a healthy child.”

More next time.

I also managed several more hours of research and finally completed chapter seven of New World Revolution this week. To date, there have been 137 chapter reviews, an increase of seventeen since I last mentioned this WIP.

There’s been plenty of positive feedback on this one, which is fantastic given the countless hours I spend each week doing research to make this as historically accurate as possible. While I have a specific time frame for this novel, the first of six planned for the series, several reviewers are reminding me about events they are familiar with. They’ll all receive an appropriate mention when it’s time. Of course, it’s always difficult to blend real events and people with the lives of fictional characters, but that’s part of the thrill of creating this series.

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

© Copyright 2020 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved