Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, December 9, 2018

A crisp but sunny start to the day. Definitely beats the slightly warmer but rainy weather! Since it’s December, who know what the next week will bring?

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

Peter, Duke of Coimbra and writer (Virtuosa Benfeitoria); John Milton, English poet and puritan (Paradise Lost); Johann Winckelmann, German archaeologist (History of Ancient Art); George Grossmith, British actor, comedian and writer (The Diary of a Nobody, A Society Clown); Joel Chandler Harris, US journalist (created Uncle Remus stories); Maksim Bahdanovič, Belarusian poet; Jean de Brunhoff, French children’s book author (Babar the Elephant); Leonie Fuller Adams, US poetess (Those not elected); Ödön von Horváth, Hungarian-born writer; Dalton Trumbo, American writer/film director (Johnny Got His Gun); Herbert Huncke, writer; Jerome Beatty Jr., American author; Jan Křesadlo, Czech writer; Joe McGinniss, author (Selling of President 1968); Ki Longfellow, American novelist; and Dobroslav Paraga, Croatian politician and editor.

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

DA-3D-coverFor those using Kindle, Dangerous Alliance will be available free on December 14th-16th across the Amazon network. Also, Dangerous Alliance made it through the first round of cover voting from allauthor.com. Could certainly use some additional votes but check out the site and vote for the covers you like the most. https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/

My Work in Progress

Much of my writing time over the past week was once again devoted to social media marketing of Dangerous Alliance. However, I did manage to complete another chapter of Carnage in Singapore. The manuscript has now received 504 chapter reviews, all assisting me in improving my writing and tweaking the story.

This brings us to a close for another week as external events require my attenion. 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, December 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

News About My Published Work

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

DA-3D-cover

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

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

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

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

My Work in Progress

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

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

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

Stayed tuned for more.

Books I’m Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, November 18, 2018

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been receiving evening visits from a hedgehog looking for its supper. Since the numbers of hedgehogs are rapidly dwindling, we purchased a house for our visitor. We’ve named him Henry but if it turns out to be a female, we’ll change it to Henrietta.

The house was placed in a sheltered location on Thursday. I also purchased a trail camera, which arrived yesterday. This morning, we had a number of photos and videos of Henry, along with a cat who has been missing in the area since August. We’ll show the video to the cat’s owner to verify, although we didn’t get a face shot. However, it’s distinctive markings on its legs do show up.

A few adjustments to the camera and we should be able to see if anyone else visits.

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

Cornelius Broere, Dutch priest/poet; William Schwench Gilbert, English dramatist, librettist, poet and illustrator (Gilbert & Sullivan); Dorothy Dix, pseudonym of US journalist Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer; Richard Dehmel, writer; Clarence Shepard Day, American author (Life with Father); Wyndham Lewis, English author/painter (Tarr, Apes of God); Howard Thurman, theologian/author (Deep River, Deep in the Hunger); Jorgen Nielsen, Danish author (regional novels); Klaus Mann, German/American author (Mephisto); Halldis Vesaas-Moren, Norwegian author/poetess; Attilio Bertolucci, Italian poet and writer; Viktor Afanasiev, editor (Pravda); Vassilis Vassilikos, Greek writer and ambassador; Frank Joseph Kofsky, teacher/writer; Rodney Hall, Australian author; Margaret Atwood, Canadian author/poet; Alan Dean Foster, American sci-fi author (Midworld, Flinx in Flux); Justin Raimondo, American author; Alan Moore, British comic book writer and novelist; Seán Mac Falls, Irish-born poet; Steven Moffat, Scottish TV writer and producer (Doctor Who, Sherlock); and Jorge Camacho, Spanish poet.

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

DA-3D-coverDangerous Alliance received another five-star review this week: “I liked Dangerous Alliance by Randall Krzak, from the first sentence of this book which reads: “In the moonless night, the target floated in the harbor’s dark water, anchored fore and aft. A faint hiss broke the silence as climbing ropes and grappling hooks sailed into the air from Plummet NS50 Silent Launchers. Within moments, a sharp tug secured each hook to a quarterdeck railing on the cruise ship, two each on the port side, the starboard, and from the stern.”

Needless to say, I was hooked. This brilliant author not only captures you with strong dramatic action brimming with suspense but also excellently and creatively weaves this intriguing story to keep you guessing and wondering what is going to happen next. His previous book, The Kurdish Connection was amazing, and I was even more impressed with the mind of this writer after reading Dangerous Alliance. Highly Recommended!”

Dangerous Alliance will be featured in the International Thriller Writers’ February 1st edition of The Big Thrill. More to follow on this as the information becomes available.

 My Work in Progress

Much of my writing time this week was devoted to social media marketing of Dangerous Alliance. However, I did manage to complete another chapter of Carnage in Singapore. The manuscript has now received 454 chapter reviews, all assisting me in improving my writing and tweaking the story.

I didn’t have time to work on Ultimate Escalation, but I did create a plot and write the first 500 words for a 10,000-word short story. The tentative title is The European Caper. I haven’t completed the synopsis yet, but perhaps I’ll have it ready for next week.

1541181484Another story working its way forward is A Cartel’s Revenge. 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?

1540055887I’m also expanding a short story I wrote into a novel. Now called Trek For Survival, Twins Maddison and Michael Jones both enjoyed a variety of outdoor activities—biking, climbing, kayaking, running, skydiving, and spelunking. Although they maintained their competitiveness throughout all pursuits, they shared another common theme—each was the other’s best friend.

After they working a multitude of odd jobs to pay for college, they graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in molecular biology, and both acquired positions with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). At first, the job dealing with humanitarian crises taxed their abilities, but as their skills improved, they sought new and more rewarding challenges for their leisure time.

Since their personal pursuits took place in North America, they decided to take a two-week vacation in Kenya after their latest assignment, hoping a change of scenery would reenergize them. Little did anyone know, but the excursion of a lifetime might end up as a one-way trip.

Books I’m Reading

I didn’t expect The Patmos Enigma: An Archaeological Thriller by Ken Fry, to let me down. It didn’t. I kept reading late into the night, turning page after page to follow the efforts of an archaeological team trying to uncover hidden secrets. This is an excellent blend of biblical archaeology and fiction, with a cast of characters who thrive on searching for clues in various nooks and crannies. Six of the seals mentioned in the Book of Revelation have been uncovered. Will the team find the seventh or will unknown elements work against them? A great thriller and I look forward to reading another of Ken’s novels as soon as possible.

Blair Howard’s new Kate Gazzara novel, Sapphire, is another thriller crafted by a master storyteller. Just when I thought I knew where events were leading, a new twist came along. Filled with larger-than-life characters and a plot destined to keep readers on their toes, stand by for plenty of action and intrigue. I don’t want to provide any spoilers, but suffice it to say Kate and her partner Lonnie, are tasked with working a number of cold homicide cases. You’ll have to grab a copy to see how things turn out. I look forward to their next adventure.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the author and was not compensate for this review. I will happily continue to read Blair’s novel as they become available.

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

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

Books by Ken Fry. Check out more information about Ken’s other books here.

Blair Howard. Check out more information regarding Blair’s books and his blog.

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

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, November 11, 2018

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

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

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

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

News About My Published Work

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully,  others will soon join these two.

My Work in Progress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books I’m Reading

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

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

I’ve expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but will also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. While I spent hours reading through various links doing research and preparing for various posts, I didn’t have time to find anything to include here.

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

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview with Author Brad Carl

This week, I’d like to introduce you to author Brad Carl. He’s a former radio personality who still earns part of his living by doing voice-over work. He grew up in the Midwest and was influenced at an early age by the Hardy Boys book series. Despite a passion for reading and writing, Brad found found being forced to read textbooks and write papers in high school and college was more work than fun.

714gLDIfMOL._US230_This turn-off would lead him away from writing for a long time. However, a few years ago, the creative bug bit Brad hard and he resumed writing. Many of the manuscripts are still on a shelf or being worked on, including some short stories, a web series, and a sitcom pilot.

What can you expect from Brad’s books? You’ll find a quick pace that provides just enough detail to allow the reader to paint their own picture. You’ll also be entertained by expressive dialogue that brings the characters to life, helping the story breathe with believability.

Let’s learn a bit more about Brad.

514o6Q1E56LSo, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) Such a loaded question!  My first book series was actually a serial, collectively titled Grey Areas – The Saga. I have also written a one-off novel, Craft Beer Burning, that many people think is a non-fiction book about craft beer, but it’s not. It’s much more entertaining than that, though I might be biased.

I also enjoy writing stories and have released 2 collections. The first is titled 5 Dead or Alive and the most recent one (just released in August) is titled 6 in the Styx.

I’ve dabbled in non-fiction, too. Since I’m a huge music fan, I wrote 50 Songs From the 70s & 80s That Still Hold Up. I also put together (what I believe to be) the ultimate business quotes collection titled 260 Best Inspirational Business Quotes.

51fXJueqruLI’ve also always had an artsy side, which often conflicts with the entertainer in me. The compromise is that the entertainer gets to write stories and books while the artsy-fartsy guy writes poetry and songs. The poetry and songs (I’m also somewhat of a musician) haven’t really seen the light of day yet. The entertainer in me wants to release this material while the artsy guy believes no one cares. 

We’ll just have to see how it all plays out.

What are you currently working on and what is it about? I’m very excited about my current project that will be an ongoing series (not a serial) with the same characters, etc. It takes place in small town Iowa (just like Grey Areas) and follows two main characters: A female sheriff’s deputy and a man who has just moved back to town after having left twenty years ago. I plan to use many of the same elements from Grey Areas – psychological suspense, drama, and some romance – while also diving more deeply into the mystery aspect of writing. Right now I expect each book will probably have a new “mystery” or case, along with the ongoing issues with the recurring characters.

How much research do you do? That’s a great question. I never feel like I do much research and yet, I clearly do. Most often I do it as I write. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of writing something and I’ll realize, I don’t know this well enough – I need to get more information. And I’ll stop what I’m doing and look things up. Sometimes I’ll think I know what I’m talking about but down the road my editor will see something and make a note that says, “You might want to verify this, I don’t think it’s correct.” 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I used to write from the hip but have been working lately on planning things out more ahead of time. Sometimes it’s difficult to plan until you actually start to write because that’s when your plot and characters become REAL. On the other hand, the writing comes out a lot faster when you have things planned. You just have to be ready to make some adjustments on the fly, and that’s okay.

51QAaN8dKJL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? Both. I do a bunch of proofreading and editing on my own, but I also have an editor who does a superb job of making me shine before anyone else sees my work. I think it’s very important, even as an indie, to use a professional editor. I’ve heard a lot of self-publishers say, “I can’t afford it.” Sure, I get it. If your goal is to publish a book and have your friends and family tell you how wonderful it is – cool. But you’re not allowed to question why your book doesn’t have a broader scope of sales. 

Self-publishing gets a bad rap because anybody can do it and as a result, there’s a lot of unedited, crummy books on Amazon right now. It can be difficult for readers to separate the good stuff from the crap until it’s too late and they’ve spent their money. 

Bad, unedited books have turned “self-publishing” into a bad word the same way used car salesmen turned “salesman” into a bad word. People tend to not trust either.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? I truly do. To tag on to my previous answer, you can’t expect to be taken seriously if your cover looks amateurish. The first impression people get of you as a writer is your book cover(s). That’s pretty important, I think.

How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both) As I’ve already mentioned, I self-publish. I like to refer to it as “indie” because of the aforementioned stigma attached to “self-published.” 

Why do I do everything myself? I could go on for days about this, and I don’t want to sound like I’m slamming people who seek out “being published.” The simple answer is I’m a control freak when it comes to my stuff. These books are like my children and I couldn’t possibly trust someone else to nurture and raise them with the care and attention to detail that I do. Seriously, I cannot fathom it. Like I said, I could go on forever about this so I’ll stop myself here.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? If you want more time to write more books, being published traditionally (I expect) is a big help and will free up more of your time to write. Publishers are a dime a dozen though, so you have to be careful with what you’re getting yourself into. 

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Man oh man. Well, there are two different types of reviews. First, there’s the kind that are done by book bloggers. For example, you wrote one here for Grey Areas – The Saga. This type of review is great exposure and generally positive. Then there are reviews by the readers – primarily on Amazon. Most of them are great. But there are some people out there who quite honestly don’t know have a clue what they’re doing and need to have their Internet privileges revoked. 

91BJ+Jsc9rL._AC_UL872_QL65_Do you think that giving books away free works and why? To an extent I think it does. I know many writers struggle with this. Some of them take a lifetime to finish writing the Great American Novel and can’t fathom giving it away for free. But if your plan is to write several books and make some regular income, giving away the first book in your series is a great way to hook potential readers into your characters and storyline at no cost to them. It shows that you have faith in your work. Of course, this is a terrible idea that will definitely backfire if your first book is awful.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Write. Keep writing. Don’t stop, moron. 

I wish I had known then what I know now. Two or three decades ago I didn’t believe it would ever be possible for me to making a living writing. I had no idea I would be able to control my own destiny like I can now. The Internet changed everything. If I had written more back then, I’d have a lot more material to work with now than I do. Ooops.

What do your fans mean to you? I wouldn’t have the desire to keep doing this if it wasn’t for the rabid readers and fans. Writing is not like a disease to me. It’s the enthusiasm from the readers that drives me. If people hadn’t wanted to know more about Henry Fields, I’m not sure I would’ve finished Grey Areas.

Where is your favorite place to write? On my back. Truman Capote said, “I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down.” I can relate. I’m not really on my back when I write, but I try to always have my feet up in a recliner or on an ottoman. Otherwise I’m not comfortable and can’t relax.

Besides writing books and producing voice work, Brad is also a successful businessman in the textile and packaging industry. He currently resides in Kansas City, MO with his wife, Kristi, and daughter, Presley. The family also has a dog (Ali).

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview with Author Nancy Wood

This week I’d like to introduce you to author Nancy Wood. She has plenty of experiencing writing non-fiction works and has now turned her expertise to fiction. Let’s learn more about her:

nancy_wood_author_photo

So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) I was a technical writer for 35 years, and retired in 2016. During my working life, I wrote all kind of things, including software ‘how-to’ manuals, guides for software engineers, programming manuals, help bubbles, marketing pamphlets, and newsletters. I started writing fiction as an antidote to technical jargon! I’ve written a ton of short stories (mostly unpublished), two attempts at literary novels (also unpublished), and two psychological thrillers, both published. They’re the first two books in a trilogy (I’m working on the third), titled Due Date and The Stork.

The books are set in the Santa Cruz, California, area, where I live. They feature surrogate mom and now aspiring PI, Shelby McDougall. In Due Date, surrogate mother Shelby falls victim to a scam involving the intended parents. The Stork, book 2, picks up Shelby’s life five and one-half years after Due Date. Shelby is apprenticing as a PI and is falling in love. But her life takes an unexpected turn when she receives a late night phone call–her birth son has gone missing.

Here’s the book blurb for Due Date: due date-001

Surrogate mother Shelby McDougall just fell for the biggest con of all—a scam that risks her life and the lives of her unborn twins.

Twenty-three year-old Shelby McDougall is facing a mountain of student debt and a memory she’d just as soon forget. A Rolling Stone ad for a surrogate mother offers her a way to erase the loans and right her karmic place in the cosmos. Within a month, she’s signed a contract, relocated to Santa Cruz, California, and started fertility treatments.

But intended parents Jackson and Diane Entwistle have their own agenda—one that has nothing to do with diapers and lullabies. With her due date looming, and the clues piling up, Shelby must save herself and her twins. As she uses her wits to survive, Shelby learns the real meaning of the word “family.”

the stork-001And here’s the book blurb for The Stork:

It’s been five and a half years, and Shelby McDougall is finally on track. Back in Santa Cruz, California, she’s sharing an apartment with her brother, and is in her second year of criminal justice studies. She’s landed her dream job as intern to local PI Kathleen Bennett. And her stone-cold love life is heating up.

Her past is behind her. Almost.

A late-night phone call puts Shelby’s perfectly ordered life into a tailspin. One of the twins she put up for adoption has been kidnapped, snatched from his home in the middle of the night. There are no witnesses.

After meeting the family, Shelby knows something is off. The adoptive parents tell her the children don’t sleep. They eat constantly, and their IQs are off the charts, qualifying them for either Ripley’s Believe It or Not or a sideshow act in the circus.

Against her better judgment, knowing that every cop in the state of California is doing their best to find this boy, Shelby agrees to help. By the time she realizes she’s up against something powerful, something evil, it’s almost too late. As Shelby fights for her life and that of the kidnapped boy, she learns the shocking truth about her babies.

And she also discovers her own truth, a lesson she has to learn over and over: her best instincts might have unexpected, damaging, consequences.

What are you currently working on and what is it about? I’m working on the third book in the Shelby McDougall series. It picks up Shelby’s story, about six years after The Stork. It will be the final book in the series, and I plan to resolve all the dangling questions. Not only from Shelby’s point of view, but also from the point of view of her nemesis, Dr. Helen Brannon.

Speaking of point of view, I’m contemplating writing this book from a third person point of view. Due Date and The Stork are first person. I don’t know if it would be too jarring to my readers to frame it from a different point of view. But I’m thinking about it!

What drew you to write in this genre? I went to a commercial fiction workshop 11 years ago now, and brought an idea for a literary novel, which turned out to be a dud. I was in a small group brainstorm session, and came up with the idea of using the themes in that novel in a mystery. At the time, the mystery/thriller/suspense genre was not on my radar at all. Now, I love it, and have become a certified addict.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Very part time at this point. I’m retired now. When I was working, I had a strict writing schedule. I’d get up and write for an hour before I headed into work. I thought I’d spend lots of time writing in retirement, but I’ve been travelling a lot. And I find I love to spend my days outdoors as much as possible.

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? Computer. Always on the computer!

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I have to have the plot fully figured out and each chapter outlined before I start writing. I also have to work out the clues and character motivations and settings before I start. Otherwise, I get lost.

What is the hardest thing about writing? For me, the hardest thing is the discipline of sitting down every day. I find that continuity is critical.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? The rewrites. I found out that the plot didn’t fit together and I had to go back through the entire manuscript fixing it.

What is the easiest thing about writing? Those days when everything fits together. The time I have to sit and the computer and write. The plot. The characters. The words!

Which writers inspire you? Dennis Lehane for suspense; Laura Lippman for love of Baltimore (where I grew up) as well as her great character Tess Monaghan; Jodie Picoult for everything; Chris Bohjalian for the inevitable startling and crazy twists; Jocye Carol Oates if I’m looking for something very, very dark; C.J. Box and Nevada Barr for settings; and David Sedaris if I’m looking for laugh-out-loud funny.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? Ebooks. I travel a lot and use the Overdrive app from my library to borrow books.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I do a lot of my own proofreading and editing, since I have a lot of experience in that area. After a few rounds on my own, I work with an editor for a complete manuscript review. Does the plot fit together? Do the characters’ motivations make sense? Does the structure of the manuscript work? Does the book start in the right place? My editor’s name is Mary Carroll Moore. She offers online classes and coaching as well as manuscript reviews. You can find her at: marycarrollmoore.com

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? Yes, absolutely. With the millions of books on Amazon, I think a cover that helps your book stand out is essential.

What do your fans mean to you? I’m astonished and humbled by my readers. I’m so grateful when someone picks up one of my books!

Where can readers find you? Here are a few places:

Website and blog: Nancy Wood Books

Email: nancywoodbooks@gmail.com

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Nancy-W.-Wood/e/B0088DJMAK/

Stay tuned for another author interview next time!

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

An Interview With Author Michael Kent

This week I’d like to introduce you to Canadian author Michael Kent. He’s a retired international management consultant. Contrary to his technical writing, his fiction always has a tinge of humor and a special twist to the tale. A native of Montreal, he is fully bilingual, normally in the same sentence.

His years as a private pilot, avid reading, and extensive traveling, have built up a storehouse of plots and stories to be shared with the world. Michael is also the regional rep Quebec and Maritimes for Crime Writers of Canada. Let’s learn more about him.

Kent_23juin-201619294What are your ambitions for your writing career? Turn my writing into a serious business.

Which writers inspire you? Mostly mystery writers such as -Robert B. Parker- Robert Crais- Jefferson Parker – even Janet Evanovich with her bigger than life characters.

So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) Many short stories, some that have won prizes or contests. I’m now working on a hard-boiled detective series. Each novel is stand alone, but we progress in the detective’s life, friendships , loves and adventures. (the 5th novel is coming out next month) I’m also planning a more esoteric novel on near death experiences.

 Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Homicide detective Lieutenant Beaudry is a bit of a rebel and somewhat politically incorrect, but he has by far, the top record for most cases solved. (Mainly because he forgot a few pages from the police procedure manual.)

What are you currently working on and what is it about? Bank Shot is about the murder of an ex-bank robber that had stashed the loot from the gang’s last job. He managed not to get caught and to change his life around, but when his accomplices got out of prison; they catch up with hi.

We also get more insights on the hard-ass Lieutenant Beaudry and the impact the murder of his mother in a botched bank robbery had on his life and character.

bank-pWhat drew you to write in this genre? Years of reading well-written mystery and thriller novels gave me the framework for my own series.

How much research do you do? I used to do a lot of research before starting a new novel, most of which never made it into the story. I now make a rough outline, write the tale and research only where needed to back up the story.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Three years ago when I retired from my business consulting practice I went full time.

How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? I try and write or edit every day. I’m a morning person and my creativity is best early in the day.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? No

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? Computer. I use a Word template for the size of novel that I publish. I no longer type in a standard manuscript format.

Where do the your ideas come from? An interesting question, for which I unfortunately have no answer. Ideas pop into my head from I don’t know where.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I do a rough outline of the plot with preliminary chapter headings in Excel. I add to the base outline and track pages and the novel’s progress as the story unfolds.

What is the hardest thing about writing? I generally know the beginning and the end of the story before I start writing. The hard spot is the swamp and alligators between them.

How long on average does it take you to write a book? I do a book per year. My target is one complete edited novel every nine months.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? Take a break, write something else, read a book, and come back to your story a few days later.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors. I don’t read, I devour books. I’m always discovering new and interesting writers.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? The feel and smell of old fashioned paper novels cannot be replaced.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? If you are serious about writing you need a professional editor.

new-novelsDo you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? No, I edit a few prior chapters to get back into the story then go on to write new pages. Except for the first pages, I never start out writing.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? I don’t like to admit it, but yes. This is another area where I may use professional assistance.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing? Never start a novel with a dream sequence, nor introduce names of a bunch of characters without some description of them.

What is your favorite quote? Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about Creating Yourself.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse? Neither, it’s an incurable disease.

What do your fans mean to you? They are my main inspiration to continue writing.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? For a short story develop as I go. For a series I create the character’s basic CV. Likes, dislikes, character traits and idiosyncrasies and add to this as I write.

Where is your favorite place to write? I have a dedicated office where I write. I mostly edit on paper outside of the office, in a restaurant, coffee shop or library.

Check out Michael’s other books on Amazon: Blood Tail, Folded Dreams, Twice Dead, and Tainted Evidence.

Watch for another author interview next time. Until then, hope you have a great week!

© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved