Uncategorized, Writing Announcements

New Release – The Called (Book 2 of The Calling Series)

The world is changing quickly for Chris now that he’s part of the Immortal Community. With the events of his past finally behind him, he’s still having visions and true magic is gradually taking hold in our world. There are new challenges that the Immortals must face, but Chris is still new and has no real standing in the immortal community. Learning that nothing in the Immortal community is what Chris thought and now having to face new threats, how will his new world unfold? Old enemies must work together and longtime friends may not be trustworthy. Who is lurking in the shadows? Why are they here? What does this mean for witches, immortals and humans?

Can Chris’ visions even be trusted given recent events, and how easily his mind is manipulated? With Juliet, Amanda, and Kirtus by his side they have to prevent the immortal and witch community from being exposed. Can they trust the local witches that are there to assist them? Can they trust their fellow Immortals? New friendships are made, and longtime alliances are called into question. How will The Called defeat these latest threats, and what does it mean for our world?

Excerpt (from chapter one):

The question of death returned to me as I reflected on recent events. You die and your body no longer functions. I was wrong. You die and your soul leaves, and what’s left turns to dust. That wasn’t the case.

Everything I thought was no longer my reality.

I sat with a glass of brandy between my hands, focusing on the fire in Juliet’s office. The oranges, reds, and yellows of the flames danced around the logs, releasing a warmth that barely penetrated my worried exterior. The crackling of the fire tickled my ears as the scent of burning pine lingered in and out of my consciousness. A knot tugged the back of my neck. What was this new vision? Worse yet, what did it have to do with me? Not to mention Juliet, Kirtus, Gregor, and the other Immortals.

“Chris.” Juliet’s gentle voice pulled me from my fog of apprehension.

How long had I been like this? A minute? A day? A year? I wasn’t sure. I turned from the fire. Kirtus sat next to me on the sofa, his coat removed, replaced by an air of worry. His red hair, green and gray eyes typically so intoxicating, brought me no joy. Gregor’s tall solid frame blocked one of Juliet’s bookcases, his rugged face a shadow of concern. All of Juliet’s tomes and books, several of them personal journals of her long life, sat there taunting me. Would they be able to unravel this new vision? This new mystery? They were next to no help with the witches, or my father. The monster. I sipped my brandy, hoping it would take the chill from my soul.

I caught Juliet out of the corner of my eye waiting for me to speak. She was patient as always. She sat with her ivory pant-clad leg crossed and a glass of red in her hand, but deep in her stunning eyes there was unease. Despite her apprehension in moments like this, she appeared so young. Nevertheless, behind that façade of youth was the power of an Immortal who had been around for 1650 years. No one should ever underestimate her.

My eyes narrowed on the red, and my stomach flipped, not from hunger or desire but from this new burden I was meant to carry.

“Would you like a glass?” she offered. Her dark blonde hair, normally combed out, was in a ponytail, making her appear all the younger. I caught a whiff of vanilla and roses, her signature scent. I inhaled deeper, hoping it would soothe me.

I shook my head.

“I realize it’s difficult, but please can you tell us the vision again.” Juliet’s voice was a whisper, but the request rang in my head. How many times would I have to retell this story?

I put the half-full brandy glass on the coffee table, recalling the images to me. “I’m standing in some kind of chamber, but it’s not anyplace I’ve been.” I scanned their three faces. “It’s not here.” My heart pounded louder in my chest. I focused on my breathing a bit more before I continued. “In the center, there is what appears to be a formal table of polished stone with nine ornately carved chairs around it. On the wall…” I kept my eyes closed and focused on the wall. “There’s a mural. You’re in it, Juliet; so is Sybil, Garrett, Fernando, Rahim, all the members of the Council of Light.”

“The council chamber in Egypt.” Juliet tapped her finger on the edge of her glass, the noise echoing throughout her office.

The sentence was barely spoken before all the images of my vision flashed back. It was too much, and my eyes flew open. Juliet, Gregor, and Kirtus surveyed me. Considering their strained expressions, they are worried about me. I waved off their unease and shook my head.

“What else?” Gregor’s deep voice cool and calm, but the glance he shared with Juliet betrayed his composure. He didn’t understand what to do with this information any more than I did.

I pulled the vision to my thoughts and continued, “The wall with the mural began to crack and crumble and I smell smoke. The chamber is on fire…” I focused on Juliet. “The stone table crumbles. The chairs burn and everything is in shambles.”

Juliet nodded and sipped her red.

“Something or someone destroyed it, but I didn’t see them.”

“Who could do such a thing?” Kirtus rubbed his hands together. “Only the Council of Light knows the actual location.”

“What else do you see?” Juliet’s peaceful aura melted my worry and fear. After a moment my thoughts cleared. Normally I would be upset at her for using her gift on me, but I needed it. Especially after all that had happened these last few weeks. My mother’s sacrifice to save me and kill my father still haunted me. My father’s death came after we discovered he was in charge of a coven of witches who wanted to destroy the world. It was a battle we had to fight to stop the witches from releasing true magic into our world.

We failed at that. True magic had still seeped into our world before we cut it off.

I had hoped it was all behind us. I wanted things to return to normal, but my gift of being a Seer had other plans. I focused once more on the brandy, wanting a sip but not taking it; my gaze returned to the fire. More of the vision came forward. “As the room fell to ruin and the mural burned, a large carved wooden chair with inlays of gold and decorated with jewels pushed the debris away.” I closed my eyes again. “There was a shadow figure sitting in the chair.”

“Who is it?” Kirtus asked.

“I’m not sure, but I hear his voice.” I pushed my eyes together tighter to help me hear.

“I’ve stayed out of the way of history, but it’s time to return and bring what is right and just back to this world.” I took a breath. “That’s what he said, but I don’t sense malice from him, but I don’t know. Sorrow and pain, maybe. Sacrifice?”

“What does he look like?” Juliet called me to focus.

“He’s tall and he’s wearing some kind of toga with deep crimson and white stripes. I can’t really see anything else.” My eyes fluttered open.

Everyone was silent. The crackle of the fire might as well have been the rumble of a train going through the room. It was unbearable, and I was about to speak.

Kirtus beat me to it. “Why don’t we take a break?”

I shook my head. “It’s fine. After the man vanished, I was standing on a grass-covered pasture. In front of me was a hill with a young girl sitting there laughing and clapping her hands. She had long brown hair and her gaze planted on an oversized full moon. It was impossibly big.” I sighed. “I’m sorry but that’s all.” I slouched deeper in the couch, focusing my own gaze on the ceiling and the rich wood inlays and trim. “I have no idea what any of it means.” The square patterns offered my brain a relaxing, ordered shape.

“That’s okay.” Gregor’s voice was stronger now as if he realized what needed to be done.

Maybe he did. I couldn’t be sure.

“You’ve given us a lot of information to go through. Add that to the reports of magic both Victor and I have seen. There is a lot happening we still have to address,” Gregor continued. “Once we begin to break it down, perhaps more will come to you.”

I faced him. “Maybe. I hope so, because right now, it feels like a whole lot of nothing. Especially when you are already dealing with these other problems.”

“We’re all new to this Seer business.” Kirtus’s hand rested on my leg.

His touch caused a shiver to rush through my body, and right now, all I wanted to do was take him to me, hold him, and get lost in his arms and warm body.

“Plus, it’s not like you haven’t been through a whole lot of hell over the last few weeks.” Kirtus offered me a grin, the single dimple on his left cheek popping out. It melted away more of my worry.

“Is it possible it’s another witch?” Kirtus asked. “Especially if magic is involved.”

He must have already known about the reports of magic being seen both in San Jose and up in San Francisco. Either way he didn’t seem surprised by this news. Or, he could have an amazing poker face.

I turned toward Juliet, who had left the chair she was sitting in and walked over to her office windows to look out. Her ivory pants and jade-green shirt somehow still looked as crisp as the moment she had glided into my bedroom only a few hours ago.

“I doubt it’s a witch, especially given the comment about staying out of histories way and setting things right.” Juliet’s voice was tight. “The clothing Chris describes is a Roman Senator, I think.” She turned to me and the others. “Another Immortal, maybe, one from the fall of Rome.”

“That doesn’t narrow the list down.” Gregor pulled at his goatee. “Especially if we include the Dark.” His frown stretched farther across his face. “Perhaps we need to talk to Victor.”

“I can ask him,” Kirtus offered. “He mentioned he wanted to see me this week.” He tried not to grimace.

Was it about the lieutenant position and the posting as his representative to the Council of Light? What he mentioned to me earlier tonight? Was that what he wanted to speak to him about?

“Thank you.” Gregor offered a slight bow of his head. “Juliet, is there anyone you know who can help with this?” He walked over to the golden cart with the bottles of alcohol and red on it. He poured himself a glass of red. “What about the witches you know here? What about the local coven? You have a good relationship with them. What about the one who charmed this estate?”

Juliet’s lips pulled into a small frown. She crossed over to the cart and poured herself another glass of red.

“I could have gotten you that.” Gregor’s tone was gentle.

She waved him off before she sipped her drink. “He’s a Healer, not a witch, and I’m not sure if he will assist us; we have an unfortunate history.” She held her drink in one hand and pulled a book from the shelf. She turned to her desk and walked to her seat, a quiet, far-off look about her.

I peeked over at Kirtus. “We should go.” I stood and glanced over to Juliet. “You have a lot on your plate with the reports of magic. I’m sorry I’ve added to the burden, but with this new vision I figured you needed to know.”

“Chris, if you see anything else…” She trailed off.

“Of course.”

“Thank you, Chris.” Gregor extended his hand. “This new vision and perhaps the magic we’ve seen may be related.”

“I hope not.” The pull of Kirtus’s body helped me realize he was by my side. “I’ll see if I can track down anyone on my end.” He glanced over to Juliet. “My network isn’t nearly as broad as yours, but you never know.”

“I think we’ll need all the help we can get,” Gregor affirmed.

I spared a worried glance at Juliet. Something was bothering her, and it wasn’t just my vision or the reports of magic. I didn’t recognize what it was, but I understood my creator well enough to leave her be. She would tell me once she had processed her thoughts and all my vision information.

She met my gaze. “Yes, we’ll speak more. Thank you for understanding.”

“Of course.” I took Kirtus’s hand, and we walked out of her office for the second time tonight.

Pick up a copy at the following:

NineStar Press: https://bit.ly/3uNlkeM
Website: https://www.mdneu.com/shop
UBL: https://books2read.com/The-Called 

About The Author:

M.D. Neu is an international award-winning inclusive queer Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric his husband of twenty plus years.

© Copyright 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Continue reading “New Release – The Called (Book 2 of The Calling Series)”

Uncategorized

Reaper Bookiversary

How do you fight a monster?

Halloween night, 1992. Promised the allowance he’s always dreamed of, Gregory has to babysit his little sister Imogen and hand out candy.

That was before the basement door opened on its own. Before the strange door appeared in the basement. Before Imogen was taken from him by that terrifying monster.

Now, Gregory has to scramble to put the pieces together before it’s too late. Where did the door come from? What was that creature? Can he save his sister, or is she already gone forever?

If you haven’t read Jonathan Pongratz’s work, you’re missing out. Check out Reaper–available across the Amazon network. Jonathan  is a writer and author 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.

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, April 21, 2021

Spring has officially arrived. We’ve had a great week of weather, with plenty of sunshine and just one short shower. Things are greening up, trying to remove the last vestiges of winter. Most of the dead leaves and branches have been removed, and pruning is well underway.

We even had great luck this week when our local grocery store received an order of garden plants. Nine viola plants (purple and yellow flowers) were successfully planted across the front border of our property. We also purchased eighteen Bellis daisies (pink flowers), and they’ll be planted later today. Eventually, the garden centres/nurseries will open back up, but I imagine they’ll be a madhouse, at least for the first few days. With any luck, we’ll be able to pick up a few more plants.

Keep going. Each step may get harder, but don’t stop. The view at the top is beautiful.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on March 21st. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays) Jean Paul, German romantic writer (Titan); Geoffrey Dearmer, poet; Phyllis McGinley, American poet (Pulitzer 1961, Love Letters); John Paxton, screenwriter (On The Beach, Kotch, Farewell My Lovely); Peter Bull, British actor and author (The African Queen, Tom Jones, Dr Strangelove); Frank Hardy, Australian author; Peter Hacks, German playwright (Tie Windloch); and Hubert Fichte, German writer.

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!

My Published Work

Mission: Angola is also participating in a promotion for New Releases – Mystery/Thriller. There are forty-two novels in this promotion, all of which have been released since October 2020. Please stop by–you might meet your next favorite author!

In case you missed it last week, I’m also pleased to announce the release of my first non-fiction feature article, “Black Ops in Fiction.” It’s now live on the web daily, Mystery & Suspense Magazine. Please check it out!

My Work in Progress

With all of the outdoors work this week, I didn’t have time to complete the next chapter of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Over the past week, there were another nine new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 401. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

Javier thundered down the two flights of stairs to the ground floor. The echo of his footsteps marked his passing. Even the plush stair carpeting couldn’t deaden the sound.

When he stepped into the reception area, Elton, Sindee, and Bruno stood in a semi-circle, their mouths open.

“What?” Javier glanced from face to face.

“Sounded like the place was caving in, boss.” A cheeky smile appeared on Bruno’s face. “I didn’t know whether to run or hide.”

Elton and Sindee both nodded, hands in front of their faces, attempting to block their grins.

“You guys should take a look in the mirror.” Javier laughed. “If I didn’t know any better, I would think this a model agency.” He put his hands on his hips. “I mean, check yourselves out.” He pointed at Elton. “What do I see? Someone who’s tall, rake thin with pronounced cheekbones and dark hair scraped back off his porcelain skin.”

“I wanted to become a model, but my mother was against it.” Elton pursed his lips. “She said to find a real job.”

“Well, she might be right. I’m not sure how much male models make, but I heard it was less than women earn.” Javier gestured at Sindee. “A gorgeous blonde, poker-straight hair, doe-eyed and bee-stung lips. Do I detect a hint of Eastern European bone structure?”

“Yes, my grandmother was from Poland.” Sindee flashed a glamourous smile. “I did try modeling, but one photographer was a perv—wanted me to strip and lie on a couch so he could shove his camera between my legs. That was enough for me—I went back to college.”

Javier turned to Bruno. “What about you? I’m sure with your height, deep-set eyes, dark Bedouin curly hair, and a long-distance runner’s physique, modeling would be something you might enjoy.”

Bruno shook his head. “No, thanks!”

Everyone laughed.

“Hello!” AJ strolled into the room. “Javier, I thought you were setting up an investigative agency. She smothered a grin with a hand. “Looks more like a talent agency.”

“How’d you get in? The front door is locked.” Javier turned and glared at his new receptionist.

Elton gulped. “Y-Yes.”

“You forgot you gave me access.” AJ dangled a set of keys.” I parked behind the building and came in through the front door.”

Javier pursed his lips. “Sorry, ET. I should have known better.”

“No worries, boss.”

“So, what brings you here? Shouldn’t you be saving the free world or something?”

AJ laughed. “Since you retired, your brain cells are diminishing. Did you forget you invited me over for a confab? MacKenzie will reach me if something urgent breaks.”

Javier raised shut his eyes as he shook his head. “Sorry, I forgot.” He turned to his employees. “Wrap up what you need to and take the rest of the day off. Be here early tomorrow, and we’ll move things forward.” He offered and arm to AJ. “Shall we head upstairs?”

“As long as you behave yourself. Otherwise, ….”

“Promises, promises.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished reading American Assassin by the late Vince Flynn. For those you have read Vince’s work, you’ll recognize this as another of his great action-packed plots. Follow the creation of Mitch Rapp from university student to trained killer, seeking out American enemies. If you haven’t read this one yet, I suggest you do so–you won’t be disappointed!

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, March 14, 2021

Another week has sailed past. Things are shaping up nicely in the flower beds, but just with plants that survived the winter. We haven’t ordered anything for this season as the weather is still too unsettled. A couple of days ago, we had thunder, lightning, and enough hail to cover the ground as if it had snowed.

Today we’re off to a fresh start, with overcast skies and a bitter breeze, making it feel much colder than it really is. Who knows what’s in store for us, but rain is in the forecast.

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them. (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on March 14th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays)

Théodore de Banville, French writer; Antonio de Castro Alves, Brazilian poet (Espumas Flutuantes); Alexandru Macedonski, Romanian writer; John Lane, British publisher (The Bodley Head); Algernon Blackwood, English novelist (The Willows); Isadore Gilbert Mudge, American librarian and author (Thackeray Dictionary); Carel T Scharten, Dutch poet and writer (Forces of the Future); Sylvia Beach, American publisher and bookseller (Shakespeare and Company); John P Strijbos, Dutch writer (Wandering through South-Africa); Andre Pieyre de Mandiargues, French writer (Margin); Horton Foote, American author, playwright and screenwriter; Macha Louis Rosenthal, critic/poet; Max Shulman, novelist (Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Tender Trap); Colin Fletcher, Welsh author and pioneering backpacker (Walking Through Time); John Barrington Wain, English novelist/poet (Hurry on Down); Bertrand Blier, novelist/director (Going Places); Peter Paul Zahl, writer; Pam Ayres, British poet; Billy Crystal, Long Beach, New York, American actor, writer, producer (Soap, City Slickers); Michael Stedman, British World War I Historian and Author; Andrew Robinson, British author; Tad Williams, American fantasy and science fiction author; and Kevin Williamson, American screenwriter.

Anyone familiar to you? The only one I recognise is Billy Crystal. 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

All five of my novels are participating in a month-long Bookfunnel promotion called Chilling Reads  (99 cents or KU). My novels are all available through Kindle Unlimited. Mission: Angola is also participating in a separate promotion for New Releases – Mystery/Thriller. There are forty-two novels in this promotion, all of which have been released since October 2020. Please stop by–you might meet your next favorite author!

I’m also pleased to announce the release of my first non-fiction feature article, “Black Ops in Fiction.” It’s now live on the web daily, Mystery & Suspense Magazine. Please check it out!

My Work in Progress

This week, I finished chapters twenty-four and twenty-five of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Both chapters were posted to the two online subscription writing sites I use. Over the past week, there were another twenty new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 392. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

Dressed in a blue sport shirt and tan chinos, Javier sat at a corner table, waiting for three new employees. He opened his laptop and grinned as he reread the short email:

Congratulations! The establishment of the Brusch Agency is hereby approved and duly recorded in all relevant databases. Good luck!

Javier sipped on an orange juice, the remains of his breakfast on a nearby plate. After checking for additional emails, he turned his laptop off.

“Good morning, sir!” Elton stood at attention near the table.

“Hey, ET. Stop with the formality. Call me Javier or boss, but stop with the sir. That retired when I did. And don’t call me Mister Smith.” Javier gestured to an empty chair. “Take a seat.”

“Yes, sir—I mean, okay, Javier.” Elton grinned as he sat. “I’m so excited—this is my first real job—with a professional.”

Javier chuckled. “I hope I don’t disappoint you. We both put on our trousers the same way.” He gestured at the menu, still on the table. “Want something to eat while we wait for the others.”

“No, thanks. I had a big bowl of Cornflakes before coming here.”

Of course, you did. I’m surprised it wasn’t Wheaties. “Okay.” He waved to a passing waitress and asked for a coffee.

She glanced at Elton, who nodded.

Javier reached down by a table leg and retrieved his backpack. He pulled out an envelope and pushed it toward Elton. “This contains your keys for our new property, along with the security alarm codes. There are also two copies of your contract. Check it over, and if you’re satisfied, sign and date both of them. You keep one, and I’ll take the other.” Javier yanked two more envelopes from his bag. “These are for Sindee and Bruno. Take care of things for me.”

Elton nodded. “Sure thing, boss.”

Two people followed the waitress, who carried a loaded tray. After she deposited four cups, a pot of coffee, and a plate of donuts on the stable, she departed.

The other two grabbed empty chairs.

“Everyone’s made it.” Javier grinned. “Let’s eat and drink up. It’s about a fifteen-minute walk to the office.”

Conversation at the table trickled to a minimum as everyone became serious about claiming their share of the coffee and pastries.

When Javier noticed everyone was finished, he waved for the bill.

A waiter rushed over, holding a wallet. “Anything else, sir?”

Javier shook his head. “Not today—time for us to head to work.” He peeked inside the folder before pulling out his wallet. Slipping the funds plus including a substantial tip into the folder, he handed it back to the waiter and stood. “See you again—soon.”

Out on the street, Javier pointed and set off on a rapid clip, the others trailing behind.

“Hey, boss.” Elton stopped and sucked in air. “Where’s the fire?”

Javier chuckled. “No fire—just need to work off the calories.”

“Well, can we do it at a slower pace?”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Late last night (or early thing morning, depending on how you look at things) I finished reading American Assassin by Vince Flynn. I haven’t written my review yet, so I’ll post my comments next time.  What have you been reading? Anything you think I might enjoy?

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, February 28, 2021

We’ve made it to the end of another month–hard to believe how fast February has zoomed past.  The weather’s improving a bit, too. Over the past week, there’s been enough sunshine and wind to dry out some of the damp areas so I could finally clean up the remainder of last autumn’s leaves. I even managed to turn over some of the flower beds and snag the weeds I missed before. Why do weeds always grow so well?

There’s still plenty to do outdoor, but I’m not rushing–a couple hours each day is enough. That allows for the sunshine and wind to start drying out everything I’ve dug over or the areas I’ve finally cleared. The hydrangas are already starting to bud and it won’t be long before we begin seeing other signs of springs. Roll on!

“The value of a smile is priceless, yet it is the cheapest, easiest, most rewarding, and most sincere gift to anyone that crosses your path. A smile makes a person’s day, anybody’s day even a stranger’s day. A smile is infectious. Start infecting people with your smile today.”

(Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

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

Michel de Montaigne, French philosopher and essayist (Essais); Ernest Renan, French philosopher/historian/scholar of religion; Quincy Adams Gillmore, American civil engineer, author, and Major General (Union Army); Hermann Schell, German theologist/philosopher (Gott und Geist); Arthur Symons, Welsh poet/critic/co-founder (Savoy); Vyacheslav Ivanov, Russian philosopher, playwright and poet; Jose Vasconcelos, politician, essayist, philosopher; Jose Gutierrez Solana, Spanish painter and author (Madrid Escenas); Ben Hecht, American novelist/playwright/screenwriter (Front Page); Laura Z. Hobson, American writer (Gentleman’s Agreement); Rudolf W. Nilsen, Norwegian poet (Hverdagen); Glyn Jones, Welsh, novelist, poet and literary historian; Stephen Spender, English poet and critic (Vienna, Edge of Darkness); Amir Hamzah, Indonesian poet (Njanji Sunji); Bernard Frank, French writer and oriental scholar; John Montague, Irish poet and 1st occupant of the Ireland Chair of Poetry; Bruce Dawe, Australian poet; Jack Thieuloy, French writer; Peter Alliss, English golfer (Ryder Cup 1957 GB winners) and author, course designer and television presenter, commentator (BBC, ESPN, ABC Sports); Alice May Brock, American author; and Tristan Louis, American writer.

Anyone familiar to you? I didn’t see and I new this week. 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 chapter twenty-three of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Over the past week, there were another nine new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 360. As always, plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s another snippet for you:

Javier disconnected the call after the sixth ring. Where is she? I thought she would sit in on the interviews. Hope everything’s okay. Perhaps work got in the way.

Before he returned to his seat, something blocked the light. Javier glanced over his shoulder.

A giant of a man approached, a hand outstretched. “You must be Javier. I’m TJ Parker.”

Javier’s hand seemed to disappear in the handshake. He looked up into the man’s face. “What are you, seven feet tall?”

An intense stare emanated from TJ’s dark eyes. He spoke in a soft voice. “Not quite. Six foot nine.”

“Take a seat.” Javier gestured toward a chair, and he returned to his. “What was your military occupational specialty?”

“Ninety-seven echo.”

Javier tapped his chin. Fits—his mere presence would intimidate anyone. “Interrogator, right?”

TJ nodded.

“Ever fire a gun at someone?”

TJ tilted his head and focused his gaze on Javier. “A stupid question. If you read my application, you know I served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Self-protection was paramount.”

“Just wanted to hear your response.” Javier grinned. “I’m planning to use two teams of investigators. One will be handling overseas assignments, and it’s possible there might be some shooting.”

“Sounds like where I belong.” TJ grinned. “What’s the pay?”

“There’ll be a one-year probationary period. During that time, you’ll earn seventy-five thousand, plus overtime, expenses, and bonuses.”

“Don’t seem like much.”

Javier gestured at ET.

“The average salary for a private investigator in Alexandria is sixty-two thousand, plus you would be responsible for your own overhead costs.” ET glanced up from the screen. “The agency will provide medical insurance, which will also cover any requirements overseas, Metro or parking reimbursement, and a 401K package.”

TJ flexed his biceps. “What about paying for a gym membership?”

Javier shook his head. “No. But what you want will be located in the basement of our building.”

“Count me in.” TJ half-rose and offered a hand to Javier.

He stuck his hand into the vice and tried not to wince as TJ crushed it. Javier stood. “Welcome aboard. We’ll be in touch in a few days with the contract.”

TJ waved a hand and departed.

As soon as he was gone, Javier flexed the fingers in his hand. “Hope the last guy doesn’t have a grip like his. We better make sure our gym is fully equipped.”

ET nodded and pointed toward the far end of the table. “Your visitor.”

Javier turned and spotted a tall, well-toned woman with blonde hair and blue eyes. “Can I help you?”

The woman stepped forward. “I made an appointment—Samantha Bennett. Call me Sam.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I’m not quite finished with Act of War (Scot Harvath Book 13)  by Brad Thor, so I’ll post my comments next time.  What have you been reading? Anything you think I might enjoy?

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, February 21, 2021

The really cold weather and the snow have disappeared–that’s the good news! While we’re back to milder temperatures, instead of snow we have rain–almost every day. At least there’s been some heavy winds to dry things out when the rain stops.

When there were long enough dry spells, I was finally able to clean up some of the leaves in the back which I didn’t get to because of the prolonged rainy season. It’s starting out overcast but dry, so I might get some more done today!

“While you wake up today someone is breathing their last breath, Thank God for another day, don’t waste it.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on February 21st. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays)

Justus van Effen, writer/founder (Holland Spectator); Willem van Haren, Frisian nobleman/poet (Human Life); Louis-Pierre Anquetil, French historian; Charles L Fournier, Flemish writer/painter; Karl A Varnhagen von Ense, German officer/author (Die Sterner); John Henry Newman, England, cardinal/author (Dream of Gerontius); Jose Zorrilla y Moral, Vallodolid Spain, poet/dramatist (El rey Loco); [James] Burner Matthews, US playwright/critic (NY Times); Pierre de Bréville, French composer, author and professor (Une histoire du théâtre lyrique en France); Jacob D du Toit [Totius], South African poet/theologist; Waldemar Bonsels, German writer; Clemence Dane, British novelist and playwright; Raymond Queneau [M Presle], French author (Un Enfant a Dit); Anaïs Nin, French writer; Armand Preud’homme, Flemish organist/poet; Wystan Hugh Auden, American poet (Age of Anxiety-Pulitzer 1948); Hans Andreus [Johan W van der Zant], Dutch poet (Animal Language); Herman de Coninck, Flemish writer/poet (Impossible Work); Chuck Palahniuk, American writer; David Foster Wallace, American writer (Infinite Jest, The Broom of the System); and Kumail Nanjiani, Pakistani American comedian, actor and writer (The Big Sick, Silicon Valley).

Anyone familiar to you? All the names were unfamiliar to me this week. 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

Two of my novels, The Kurdish Connection and Dangerous Alliance, are participating in a month-long Bookfunnel promotion called, Alpha Males (Human). There’s still time before the promotion ends on February 28th, so why not drop in and see if there’s anything that sparks your interest? All of the authors will be greatly appreciated!

My Work in Progress

I didn’t quite finish the next chapter of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal as real-life requirements took precedence. Over the past week, there were another five new chapter reviews,  bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 351. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

“However, your reputation precedes you. No one doubts you’re both brilliant analysts—your IQ scores are off the charts. However, my friend thinks your over-exuberant personalities won’t work in an environment where you can’t draw attention to yourselves.”

The twins looked at each other, before speaking in unison, “But we can tone things down when needed.”

“Field operatives must become part of their environment and not be noticed. Somehow, I don’t see you fitting into this role.” AJ raised a hand to ward off any further objections. “I’m sure the only time you two are introverted is when you’re asleep.”

Everyone laughed.

“So, what do you suggest?” Her badge identified her as MacKenzie, who often took the lead in speaking when the twins were together. “At first, working for the CIA was a thrill, but too many people are always telling us what to do. We don’t require constant supervision.”

AJ nodded. “I know this, which is why I keep my requests for updates from you to a minimum. However, too many people feel threatened by your brilliance and try to find something wrong with your work.”

Makayla raised a hand. “What do you suggest we do? We’ve been working here since graduating from Princeton when we were seventeen. Yet, you’re the only boss we’ve had who allows us to stretch ourselves and take on more assignments.”

“I understand. Which is why I spoke with Human Resources today.”

“What about?” MacKenzie’s eyes seemed to widen with alarm. “Are we in trouble again? We said we wouldn’t create any more disturbances in the cafeteria.”

“No, you’re not in trouble. I’ve been trying to find a way to tap into your genius without you being stifled by bureaucracy and might have come up with a solution.”

“What?” MacKenzie and Makayla leaned forward.

“Hold on—you may not like it.” AJ glanced from one twin to the other. “As you’re aware, my friend Javier—”

“Yeah, more like a lover than a casual friend, if you ask me.” Makayla struggled to hold her laughter. “Is that how you refer to him?”

“Never mind.” AJ tilted her head. “As I was saying, Javier’s moving forward with his investigative agency. He happened to mention last night he needed at least two experienced research analysts who could work with minimal supervision.”

“But we have jobs.” MacKenzie frowned. “We might be good, but we’re not magicians.”

“Here’s the deal. He’s willing to take you both on a part-time basis. HR informed me it’s possible to keep you working here on a part-time basis. Javier also mentioned you would be required to go through the field training he’ll be setting up.”

‘Woohoo!” The twins performed a celebratory dance while seated, arms above their heads as if they were cheerleaders.

“When do we start?” Makayla rubbed her hands together.

“As soon as Javier has everything up and running.”

“Count me in.” Makayla glanced at MacKenzie.

“Heck, yeah. If Javier hires us, will you be coming along?” MacKenzie raised a brow. “You keep telling us how much you detest being behind that desk. I remember you said there was a job for you, too.”

AJ grinned. “You better get back to work. I want to finish up and head out early for a change.” Need to do some thinking about my future, too.

***

Her day completed, AJ secured her computer, spun the combination lock on her safe, and headed out of her office. Once in her car, she turned on the radio and began humming to a tune.

She pulled into the rush-hour traffic and began the crawl home, her fingers tapping on the wheel to the sound of the music. When she reached her exit, she signaled and shot along the ramp.

The traffic light flicked to yellow.

AJ gunned her engine.

Beeeeep! Beeeeep!

AJ turned toward the thunderous twin blasts of an air horn. Her eyes grew wide as an eighteen-wheeler sped through the intersection toward her.

Baaang!

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

This week I finished reading Blair Howard’s One Dark Night (Harry Starke Genesis Series Book 6), which will be released on February 28th. As with all of Blair’s novels, there’s a riveting plot with plenty of twists and turns so readers won’t be able to figure out who the culprits might be. Along with the stalwart Harry, his team, and Kate Gazarra from the Chattanooga Police Department, we find ourselves embroiled in a fourteen-year-old double murder of a young couple. But who was the villain or villains? Will it be a member of a local wealthy family or someone from a family teetering on the poverty line?

This one will have you turning the pages to find out what happens as Harry and the others do their utmost to solve the riddle, while at the same time, try not to get themselves killed. Once again Blair show why he’s a master at these ‘whodunnit’ stories. Can’t wait for the next one! I received an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

It’s been a cold and snowy week. We received about 7-8 inches of the white stuff, and it’s still covering the ground. We also saw our coldest day of the winter thus far, 19F (-7C). Hopefully, that’ll be the end of the worst weather, but only Mother Nature knows!

This week Sylvia and I received our first Covid-19 vaccinations. It was an easy and painless process, with plenty of helpful people ensuring everything went according to plan. From arriving at the vaccination center (a local church) to leaving was less than forty-five minutes, including the fifteen-minute wait after the jabs to make sure we were okay. Not sure when we’ll get the second dose, but letters are supposed to be sent to us.

“Thinking positive thoughts will always empower you. Do it enough & it will change your life.”(Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on February 14th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays)

Christianus Adrichomius, Dutch Catholic priest & writer (Vita Jesu Christi); Hans Christoph Haiden, German composer, organist and poet; Sybilla Schwarz, German baroque poet; Pierre-Claude Nivelle de La Chaussée, French writer (L’École des Mères); Christopher Latham Sholes, American newspaper man, politician and inventor of the typewriter; Edmond François Valentin About, French writer (Le Roi des montagnes); Francois Haverschmidt, Dutch writer (Snikken en grimlachjes); Frank Harris, Irish-American journalist and writer (My Life & Loves); Israel Zangwill, Jewish author (Children of The Ghetto); William John Gruffydd, Welsh poet & scholar; George Jean Nathan, American editor, author and critic (American Mercury); Kostas Varnalis, Greek poet; Nina Hamnett, Welsh artist & writer; John Herman Randall Jr., American philosopher (Western Man); A. Moses Klein, Canadian poet (Hath Not a Jew…); Edmund George Love, American historian & author (A Small Bequest); Ab [Albert] Visser, Dutch poet/writer (Man Without a Head); James Pike, American bishop (Beyond Anxiety); Juan Garcia Hortelano, Spanish author (Tormenta de verano); Alexander Kluge, German author and film director (Yesterday Girl); Israël “Ischa” Meijer, Dutch journalist, critic and author (Een Dik Uur Ischa, Boezemvriend); Carl Bernstein, American investigative reporter who covered Watergate for the Washington Post; and Phillip Hamilton, American author.

Anyone familiar to you? I spotted one: Carl Bernstein. 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

Two of my novels, The Kurdish Connection and Dangerous Alliance, are participating in a month-long Bookfunnel promotion called, Alpha Males (Human). Why not drop in and see if there’s anything that sparks your interest? All of the authors will be greatly appreciated!

My Work in Progress

I finally finished chapter twenty-two of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. Over the past week, there were another three new reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 346. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

AJ weaved through heavy traffic on the Capital Beltway. She leaned on the horn and cursed slower motorists.

“Late again. Don’t they know the speed limit is fifty-five, not twenty-five?” She slammed a hand on the steering wheel of her gunmetal gray Honda Pilot.

After blowing her horn at a vehicle weaving in front of her, she spotted her exit and sped along the edge of the freeway and flew down the ramp. She raced through a red light and whipped her vehicle toward the security checkpoint at the CIA facility in Langley, skidding to a halt at the end of a line of cars waiting for access.

“C’mon, c’mon!” When her turn came, she flashed her badge at the sensor and shot past the barricade. Grabbing a pass from the console, she flung the placard on the dash, jumped out of her car, and raced inside.

Once through the turnstile, she rushed to the elevator, the heels of her black leather shoes clicking on the tiled floor. Two minutes later, AJ waltzed into her section at the community coffee pot for a black coffee.

“About time, boss lady.” MacKenzie Campbell twirled the ends of a blonde plait as she leaned against the door to AJ’s office. “I’m sure you said you would be coming in early—much earlier than this.”

“Yeah, well … things happen.” She smiled as she remembered the previous evening with Javier.

“Heello! Earth to AJ.” MacKenzie nudged AJ forward into the office and sat in front of the desk.

AJ sat behind the desk and sipped her coffee. She grimaced at the bitter taste. “Who made the coffee—it’s not too good.”

When MacKenzie laughed, it reached her blue eyes. “The new member of the team. I heard she’s a tea drinker, but wanted to help out.”

“Definitely needs some training.” AJ pushed the mug away. “So, anything new on the alert board for Latin America or projected to be heading our way? I have a meeting with the other heads of the counter-terrorism divisions and will provide them an update.”

“Since you dealt with the drug cartel, FARC, and Islamic State trifecta, things are still quiet in our area of responsibility. Even Mexico is bending to our request for more information, whereas before they were reluctant partners.”

AJ flicked her long, brown hair. “What’s Makayla up to?”

“We might be identical twins, but she works out in the gym more than I do.” MacKenzie laughed. “She’s probably teaching some rookie the latest Krav Maga moves she learned.”

“I pity the poor person. From time to time, I work out with Makayla, and it’s no picnic. She means business throughout every training session.”

“That’s why she’s one of our best, and why I don’t train with her. She always kicks my butt, and I’ve got the bruises to prove it. If only you’d allow us out into the field, we could show what we can do.”

AJ shook her head. “Ain’t gonna happen. I told both of you before your strength is in your search abilities. I don’t think you’re cut out for an overseas assignment—yet. Perhaps, one day.”

MacKenzie rolled her eyes but remained silent.

“When your sister decides to make an entrance, I need to speak with both of you. Something’s come up which might be of interest to you.” AJ glanced at the wall clock. “I better get ready for the meeting.”

MacKenzie stood. “Catch ya later, and I’ll bring my errant sister.”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

Over the past couple of weeks I finished The Eye of Shiva (The Project Book 8) by Alex Lukerman. Although this was the first novel I’ve read in the series, it was easy to identity the main characters, Luke and Selena, which were well-crafted and identifiable. This is a fast read, combining plenty of action, intrigue, and some romance as they become embroiled in an international  conspiracy, one with potential deadly consequences for hundreds of thousands of people.

If you enjoy interesting plots, and plenty of action with a few twists thrown in, you’ll find this an excellent page-turner. Although this can be read as a standalone without any negative impact, I’m definitely heading back to the first book in the series!

I also completed Unhinged: A Micro-Read by John Podlaski. What starts out as a simple job at a local drive-in movie facility for two teenagers will haunt them for the rest of their lives. I don’t like to do spoilers, and since this is a novella, it won’t take you long to become immersed in this riveting story.

John shows a brilliant writing style which will appeal to a wide range of tastes. Highly recommended and I look forward to reading more of John’s work!

Finally, I finished reading The Enigma Factor: A Techno Thriller (The Enigma Series Book 1) by Charles V Breakfield and Roxanne E. Burkey. This is a fantastic blend of romance, drama, crypto-capers, crime, and adventure. With a well-designed plot and plenty of action scenes, this will definitely appeal to those who enjoy the genre. Look forward to reading more of Charles and Roxanne’s work!

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, February 7, 2021

Today’s a special day in our house–it’s Sylvia’s 70th birthday! Although Covid stopped the planned party and our son’s trip over from Washington, D.C., I’ll try to make her day as memorable as possible.

Mother Nature is always adding to the fun–it’s snowing!  The forecasters say 3-6 inches by Wednesday. Will have to wait and see. In the meantime, the wind is whipping the snow around and it looks fantastic!

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

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

Sir Thomas More, English statesman, humanist, and author; Thomas Killigrew, English humorist/playwright/leader (King’s Men); Jean-Francois Regnard, French comedy writer (Slave in Algeria); Rhijnvis Feith, Dutch mayor/writer (Zwolle/Thirsa); Frederik Paludan-Muller, Danish Romantic poet (Danserinden); Charles Dickens, English novelist (Oliver Twist, Tale of 2 Cities); Ricardo Palma, Peru, writer/poet (Tradiciones Peruanas); Raf[ael] Verhulst [Koen Ravestein], Flemish writer (Jesus of Nazarus); Laura Ingalls Wilder, American author (Little House on Prairie); Jindrich S Baar, Czech pastor/writer (Jan Cimbura); [Harry] Sinclair Lewis, American writer and social critic (Nobel Prize in Literature 1930); Jacob Paludan, Danish pharmacist/writer (Jorgen Stein); Bob den Doolaard [Cornelis Spoelstra], Dutch writer (Grape Pickers); Paul Nizan, French journalist/writer (L’Humanité, La Conspiration); David Ignatow, American poet (Tread the Dark, Rescue the Dead); Ralph Whitlock, English writer; Gay Talese, author (Honor Thy Father); Brian Morton, Scottish writer; Richard Cook, British jazz writer (The Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings); Matt Ridley, British science writer; and Emma McLaughlin, American novelist.

Anyone familiar to you? There were three names I know: Sir Thomas More, Charles Dickens, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’d also like to mention my wife, Sylvia. While she’s not published, her poems have sold well at numerous craft events in the U.S. and UK. Watch out–one day she’ll be published! 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

Colombian Betrayal is participating in the 2020 Chanticleer International Book Awards in the global thrillers category.

I found out this week it is now on the short list. Competition will be stiff for making the semi-finals. There are eighteen novels on the list. You can see the list by clicking here.

The semifinalists should be announced over the next month. Fingers crossed that Colombian Betrayal makes it! Once the semifinalists are announced, they’ll compete for the finalist positions. This year, there’ll only by five first place winners and one grand prize winner, which will be announced on April 25th.

My Work in Progress

I didn’t get a change to finish chapter twenty-two of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. However, there three new reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 343. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing. I hope to get back to working on this novel this coming week.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

“Hello, boys.” AJ tossed her bag on the table. “What’re you two cooking up?” She grabbed a wing from Javier’s plate.

“I’ll let him fill you in. Want a beer?”

AJ nodded. “The usual.”

“Comin’ up.”

She turned to Javier and gestured at his open laptop. “Whatcha workin’ on?”

He filled her in on the news about the property. “So, I’m working on an ad to put in the paper.” He turned his computer around. “What do you think?”

“Let me see.”

Interested in new and exciting job prospects with opportunities to travel and broaden your mind? Look no further—get in on the ground floor of a new business coming to Alexandria—The Brusch Agency. We’re after self-starters who can run with things without needing someone to hold their hand. Positions include:

Receptionist

Logistics expert

Computer whiz

Research analysts (2)

Private investigators or applicable military specialties (6)

Previous experience desired but will provide job-specific training. Excellent pay and benefits.

AJ nodded. “You’re missing someone important.”

“Who?”

“A short-order cook who knows how to make proper coffee.”

Javier chuckled. “The receptionist can keep the coffee coming, and I already spoke with Luke about food—they’ll deliver.”

“Where do I sign up?” AJ reached across the table and took Javier’s hand.

“Job getting to you?”

AJ nodded. “I knew being shoved behind a desk would stress me out, but I never realized how bad it could be. Endless meetings with no objective, stacks of paperwork, and no opportunity to keep my skills sharpened. I dunno how long I’ll keep this up.”

Javier squeezed her hand. “There’s always a spot for you at Brusch Agency.”

“What would my title be?”

“How about chief bottle washer?”

“That’s inspiring.” A hint of a smile creased AJ’s face.

“I’m sure we can come up with a fitting title.” Javier drained the last of his beer and took one of the two remaining wings, pushing the plate toward AJ. “Want anything else?”

AJ snatched the wing and chewed. She shook her head. “You’re cooking tonight, remember? I’m all set for a rib eye steak, baked potato, and salad.”

“Shall we go?”

Both stood. After stopping by the bar to pay their bill, they headed out the door, arm-in-arm.

***

Bennie kept his camera focused on the entrance to the restaurant. Great idea to check with the restaurant and tell them I was looking for Javier because his photos are ready. Hopefully, he’ll show up.

He grinned when his patience was rewarded, and he took a series of snaps. After his targets turned the corner, he picked up his phone and hit the speed dial. “Alberto. I found them!”

More next time.

Last week, I mentioned the opportunity I received to write a feature article about Black Ops in Fiction for the web daily, Mystery and Suspense Magazine. I submitted my article to their editor-in-chief this week and with some revisions (he did them), it’s ready to go. I’ll post the link once the article is live.

Books I’m Reading

I read a couple more books over the past week. However, with my concentration on the article, I didn’t get a chance to prepare my reviews, so they’ll appear next time.

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, January 31, 2021

Here we are at the end of January–couldn’t have come soon enough! Hopefully, the near-constant fog, rain, sleet, and snow (occasionally brightened up when the sun dared to venture out) will be behind us, although that’s highly unlikely. Still, we’re on the cusp of a new month, and there’s more daylight each day.

“If we can see something Invisible, we can also create something Impossible.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” (Compliments of http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com/)

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on January 31st. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays)

Nicolas Saboly, French composer and poet; Jozsef Bajza, Hungarian author/poet/critic; Antony Winkler Prins, Dutch writer (Groiler Encyclopaedia); Emil Strauss, German writer (Naked Man); Zane Grey, American West novelist (Riders of the Purple Sage); Freya Stark, English explorer/ travel writer; Marie Luise Kaschnitz, writer; Gardner Cowles, Iowa, publisher/founder (Look Magazine); Anna Blaman [Johanna P Vrugt], Dutch writer (Wife & Friend); John O’Hara, American novelist (Appointment at Samarra); Miron Grindea, literary editor; Christina Foyle, book seller; Thomas Merton, French-American Catholic writer and Trappist monk (7 Story Mountain); Norman Mailer, American novelist (Naked & the Dead, The Executioner’s Song); Kenzaburo Oe, Japanese novelist (Catch, Personal Matter) who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994; Steve Karmen, American jingle writer (I Love NY, This Bud’s for You); Ajip Rosidi, Indonesian poet/writer (Madjalah Sunda, Pesta); Anton Korteweg, Dutch poet (For the Good Order); Ken Wilber, American philosopher & writer; and Grant Morrison, British comic book author.

Anyone familiar to you? There were names I know:  Zane Grey and Norman Mailer. 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!

New Release!

Mission: Angola (Xavier Sear Thriller Book 1) has now been released by Solstice Publishing, and is available across the Amazon network in Kindle and paperback versions.

With the release of this novel, came a quite unexpected opportunity. The editor-in-chief of the web daily, Mystery and Suspense Magazine, contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in doing a feature article on Black Ops in Fiction.

I said yes, and my draft is well underway–only about 1,350 words out of the maximum 2,000 I’m allowed. As with all of my work, I posted it on the two online subscription writing sites I use. It’s already received fifteen reviews and it won’t be long before I’ll be ready to send it along. Stay tuned for any new information about this.

My Work in Progress

The pain in my elbow/arm kept me from working too much on Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal, so I was unable to complete chapter twenty-two This past week, there were another seven new reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 340. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing.

Here’s another snippet:

AJ weaved through heavy traffic on the Capital Beltway. She leaned on the horn and cursed slower motorists.

“Late again. Don’t they know the speed limit is fifty-five, not twenty-five?” She slammed a hand on the steering wheel of her gunmetal gray Honda Pilot.

After blowing her horn at a vehicle weaving in front of her, she spotted her exit and sped along the edge of the freeway and flew down the ramp. She raced through a red light and whipped her vehicle toward the security checkpoint at the CIA facility in Langley, skidding to a halt at the end of a line of cars waiting for access.

“C’mon, c’mon!” When her turn came, she flashed her badge at the sensor and shot past the barricade. Grabbing a pass from the console, she flung the placard on the dash, jumped out of her car, and raced inside.

Once through the turnstile, she rushed to the elevator, the heels of her black leather shoes clicking on the tiled floor. Two minutes later, AJ waltzed into her section at the community coffee pot for a black coffee.

“About time, boss lady.” MacKenzie Campbell twirled the ends of a blonde plait as she leaned against the door to AJ’s office. “I’m sure you said you would be coming in early—much earlier than this.”

“Yeah, well … things happen.” She smiled as she remembered the previous evening with Javier.

“Heello! Earth to AJ.” MacKenzie nudged AJ forward into the office and sat in front of the desk.

AJ sat behind the desk and sipped her coffee. She grimaced at the bitter taste. “Who made the coffee—it’s not too good.”

When MacKenzie laughed, it reached her blue eyes. “The new member of the team. I heard she’s a tea drinker, but wanted to help out.”

“Definitely needs some training.” AJ pushed the mug away. “So, anything new on the alert board for Latin America or projected to be heading our way? I have a meeting with the other heads of the counter-terrorism divisions and will provide them an update.”

“Since you dealt with the drug cartel, FARC, and Islamic State trifecta, things are still quiet in our area of responsibility. Even Mexico is bending to our request for more information, whereas before they were reluctant partners.”

AJ flicked her long, brown hair. “What’s Makayla up to?”

“We might be identical twins, but she works out in the gym more than I do.” MacKenzie laughed. “She’s probably teaching some rookie the latest Krav Maga moves she learned.”

“I pity the poor person. From time to time, I work out with Makayla, and it’s no picnic. She means business throughout every training session.”

“That’s why she’s one of our best, and why I don’t train with her. She always kicks my butt, and I’ve got the bruises to prove it. If only you’d allow us out into the field, we could show what we can do.”

AJ shook her head. “Ain’t gonna happen. I told both of you before your strength is in your search abilities. I don’t think you’re cut out for an overseas assignment—yet. Perhaps, one day.”

MacKenzie rolled her eyes but remained silent.

“When your sister decides to make an entrance, I need to speak with both of you. Something’s come up which might be of interest to you.” AJ glanced at the wall clock. “I better get ready for the meeting.”

MacKenzie stood. “Catch ya later, and I’ll bring my errant sister.”

Perhaps more next time.

Books I’m Reading

I recently read The Innocent by Michael Bronte. This is an excellent novella which is a great way to find out about an author’s writing style. Michael has created a splendid story which will have you flipping the pages.

Find out what happens to Tom Slate and his son when they go to a hockey game. Should be a great day out for father and son, but belong long, things are turned upside down. Since this is a novella, I won’t give anymore away, but suffice it to say you’ll be able to relate the realistic characters and urging them on. I look forward to reading more of Michael’s work!

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

 

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, January 10, 2021

It’s been a crazy start to the new year, with plenty of cold weather (at least for here) with enough snow I had to get out of snow shovel for the first time since the 2017-18 winter. While not enough of the white stuff to slow things down, it still made a mess.

Today, we’re back to more seasonal temperatures, with a 2C (about 36F) beginning. Of course, with that, the cloud cover is back–looks like we could end up with some rain later today.  At least the cats are happy as they didn’t seem to like the snow much.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on January 10th. (Compliments of http://www.onthisday.com/today/birthdays):

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, German writer & composer; Aubrey de Vere, Irish poet & critic (Victorian Observer); John Dalberg, Baron Acton, English historian (“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”); Peter J. Blok, Dutch historian (History of the Dutch People); Walter Travis, Australian-American golfer, writer, course designer (US Amateur C’ship 1900-01, 03; British Amateur 1904); Enrica Freiin von Handel-Manzetti, Austrian poet & writer (Jesse & Maria); Aleksei Tolstoi, Russian poet/writer (Pjotr Peroyj); Robinson Jeffers, American poet & playwright (Tamar & Other Poems, Medea); Dumas Malone, American historian (Jefferson & His Time); Reginald Denham, English writer & director (Obsession, The Bad Seed); Tjalie Robinson [Jan Boon], Dutch East Indies writer and journalist (Tong Tong); Claude Gallimard, French publisher; Ingeborg Drewitz, German writer & academic; Philip Levine, American poet; Peter Barnes, English writer; Stephen E. Ambrose, American historian (Band of Brothers); ared Carter, American poet; David Horowitz, American author & political commentator; William Levy, American writer; George Alec Effinger, American sci-fi author (Nick of Time); and Antonio Muñoz Molina, Spanish writer (Royal Spanish Academy).

Anyone familiar to you? I’m sure most people have heard of Tolstoi. 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

All four of my published novels are participating in a Book Funnel promotion to kick off the new year. It’s called Welcome to 2021 – A New Chapter. Why not click and check out the 124 novels on offer? You might find someone new to read. This promotion ends on January 15, so don’t delay!

My Work in Progress

I’m off to a good start in 2021 with the completion of chapter twenty of Revenge, the sequel to Colombian Betrayal. It’s been posted to the two online subscription writing sites I use, and I’ve picked up a couple of new readers.. There were another twelve new reviews, bringing the total number of chapter reviews to 317. Plenty of useful suggestions to improve my writing.

Here’s this week’s snippet:

Walter pushed a shopping cart through the aisles of the home improvement store. Ticking items off a mental list, he purchased metal pipe and caps, nails, and a stack of plywood sheets and decking boards. He finished with a stop in the tool section, selecting hammers, pliers, a hacksaw, and a saw for cutting the wood.

As he headed toward the check-out area, he stopped at an aisle he hadn’t visited. Better grab some paint and brushes, too. Glad I convinced Alberto to keep the property in Culpepper. Perfect for making my toys.

After securing everything in the windowless, gray van provided by Alberto’s fixer, Walter drove across the street to a competitor’s store. Once again, he filled a shopping cart with his necessities: ball bearings, an electric saw, a grinder, a drill, a pipe threader, four rolls of Duct tape and two twenty-five-pound bags of fertilizer. As with his first stop, he paid for everything with cash.

Back on the highway, he drove within the legal speed limit, arriving at their temporary shelter in an hour. After hauling everything inside, he parked the van in the lean-to garage. Tomorrow, I’ll pick up the fireworks and an additional cell phone.

***

Armed with several cameras and a cooler, Bennie spent the day camped outside the property where Javier lived. He routinely took photos of pedestrians entering the building and vehicles using the underground garage.

Every hour, Bennie switched his location, sometimes using his blue Chevrolet Camaro, and other times on foot, acting like a tourist. No sign of him. Where is he?

Toward the end of the day, he lost his patience and entered the lobby carrying a package. “Excuse me. Do you know where I might find a …” Bennie glanced at the parcel. “Colonel Javier Smith. He needs to sign for this package.”

The security guard chuckled. “You missed him. He left an hour ago. Said he’d be back in a day or two. I can sign for the package and keep it for him if you like.”

Bennie shook his head. “Thanks, but I’ll return in a couple of days. This is a surprise for him, so I want to place it in his hands and get his photo.”

After leaving the building, he returned to his car. Before departing, he placed a call. “Missed him—not sure where he went. A guard said he’d be back in a couple of days.”

Alberto slammed a fist on the table, upsetting his cup of tea. “Find him, Bennie. I don’t care what you must do, but find him!”

More next time.

Books I’m Reading

I finished reading another book this week, but didn’t get a chance to gather my thoughts. So, next week, I hope to offer up two reviews.

That’s all 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 2021 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved