Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, June 12, 2016

According to the calendar, yesterday was still considered a spring day. The temperature didn’t seem to care what date was on the calendar. We reached eighty-eight degrees Fahrenheit (31.1C), worthy of any summer’s day. Our cats and Tyson, the boxer dog, were flaked out, even inside with the air conditioning chilling the rooms.

Falling in line with this year’s topsy-turvy weather, today’s forecast is sixty-five degrees. I woke up about five a.m., to a reddish glow across the horizon, waves lapping at the shore. At least at the moment, there’s brilliant sunshine with nary a cloud in the sky. Long may it last!

A follow-up to last week’s comments regarding the local ‘no-kill’ shelter’s annual event: I mentioned three of the four dogs looking for homes were adopted by attendees. I’m pleased to report the fourth one found a home this week.

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

I’m very pleased to report ‘The Kurdish Connection’ my first novel in the Bedlam series, is now under a publishing contract with Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC.  Needless to say, I’m delighted and look forward to working with publisher Gene Robinson and his team!

No further snippets from ‘The Kurdish Connection’ at this time, but I’d like to share a few lines from a short story, ‘Lakeside Retreat’, which I finished yesterday:

Angry clouds hovered over the lake, changing the deep azure surface to a cold gray. A cool breeze picked up speed, skimming across thirty miles of water, chasing whitecaps to the shore. Lightning bolts crackled, expanding the air. Thunder rumbled, growing in volume, as the lightning intensified.

“Ma, you alright?” Cecil Cardinal wrapped a wing around his wife as they huddled on branches of a Scotch pine.

“Yes, Pa. Stop frettin’.” Caitlyn spread a wing across her stomach. “Junior’s kickin’. Must be the storm.”

“I told you, we should go further inland during these storms.” Cecil shook his head to clear the raindrops now falling through the branches.

“Yes, Pa. But I wanted more seeds from the green feeder.”

“Cheapskate human. It’s spring, so we don’t get the good seed. He bought the economy stuff.”

“Now, Pa. At least he makes sure there is plenty to eat.”

***

The deer pushed through a final line of trees. They reached the bottom of the embankment and paused, listening. Ahead of them, a long black ribbon often filled with life-taking danger.

“Now, children, pay attention.” Willow Whitetail pointed with a paw. “We must cross the cordon. What should we do first?”

“Stop,” Winter said, beating her brother to the first instruction.

“What else?”

“Look and listen.” Woodstock glared at Winter.

“Show me.” Willow waited as her children stepped forward to do her bidding.

“Okay, Momma,” they chimed together.

“Let’s do it.”

Willow and the children reached the middle of the black expanse when twin beams of light dazzled them, bringing them to a halt in mid-stride. They stood, mesmerized, as a strange rumbling increased in volume.

“Run, children, run!” Willow screamed at Winter and Woodstock. They bounded to safety as she stood her ground.

My Work in Progress

This week, I concentrated my writing on ‘Lakeside Retreat’ for possible inclusion in an anthology organized by the Writer’s Network Club. The theme is nature, and as indicated above, I chose the birds and animals that surround us to be my cast. Or did they choose me? Will keep you advised of this story’s progress.

I didn’t have a change to continue my in-depth research for the second book in the Bedlam Series, ‘A Malicious Affiliation.’ Hope to continue this week. Likewise, I had little time for adding to ‘A Cartel’s Revenge’ but plan to post a prologue and perhaps chapter four to the two subscription writing sites I use for initial critiques.

Books I’m Reading

I completed my review of another book written by one of the ‘Sunset Thrillers’ beta group. Since this is unpublished material, I won’t be providing any public feedback, but once the story’s available to everyone, I’ll be happy to do so. Now, I’m putting my notes together to provide to the writer. This will conclude the initial teaming of the ‘Sunset Thrillers’.

I’m back to my regular reading and reviewing of published books and will share a new review next week.

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

I’ve now expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. Hope you’ll check out the links!

Kenton Woods – Check out Kenton Woods’s blog and follow his journey as a writer and his outlook on life.

Tracey Clark – Tracey provides a peek into her second book in the Finders Keepers series. The first book, ‘Shocking Finds‘, is already available through Amazon.

Writing Resources

I don’t have any new writing resources to share this week.  I hope to have something new for next week as my research increases. Have an enjoyable weekend.

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

© Copyright 2016 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings, June 5, 2016

Here we are in June, trees are in bloom, and  gardeners and farmers are busy with necessary planting and the weather’s better.  Yesterday, our local ‘no-kill’ animal shelter had a daylong charity event. In addition to sponsoring an ‘ask the vet’ booth and providing two hundred forty bottles of water and four cases of soft drinks, we put up a canopy and took along crafts and other things to raise additional funds. The outpouring of volunteer support was fantastic to see, at times there seemed to be more volunteers than visitors.  That said, I’m sure they did well with their primary annual fundraiser, and three dogs were adopted on the spot.

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

Quiet on the news front regarding contacts with publishers. Perhaps this coming week will provide something exciting. At least, I can hope.

A bit more from ‘The Kurdish Connection’:

By early afternoon, they found a pleasant spot at the base of several large boulders to rest and eat the goat cheese and cucumber sandwiches provided by the hotel. Fatigue caught up with them from all the climbing, but they wanted to finish their Zelve excursion in one day.

Willie stopped in his tracks and turned around.

“Ya smell that?”

Aiden grinned, recognizing the familiar aroma. “Come on, Willie, lead us on, eh?”

“Let’s head down the path between the trees.”

They rambled along, heads twisting from side to side. Willie kept muttering, “Stronger, stronger—the nose knows!”

In front of them, a dozen foreigners leaned against various rock formations and a few trees, looking like Woodstock rejects. Music played in the background while they passed around joints and wine bottles.

An elderly woman approached Dersim as he returned to his vehicle. She held out her wrinkled, arthritic hands. “This is all I own of value. My husband’s—the Turks killed him.” On one palm lay a gold watch; on the other, six small gold coins, still attached to red ribbons, customary gifts given to couples on their wedding day.

My Work in Progress

This week, I concentrated my writing on a short story for possible inclusion in an anthology organized by the Writer’s Network Club. The theme is nature. I won’t provide any details yet, but will have the story completed within a couple of weeks.

I’ve also commenced in-depth research for the second book in the Bedlam Series, which I’m calling ‘A Malicious Affiliation.’  Here’s my initial synopsis:

United Nations’ sanctions are crippling North Korea. China has turned her back on her malevolent partner. The North Korean military machine is crumbling, unable to function. Oil reserves are minimal and the government seeks new alliances.

Cargo and tourist ships are disappearing along the Somali and Kenyan coastline at an alarming rate. Speeches abound in the United Nations, but inaction emboldens Al-Shabab to seek their next prize: Kenya. The terror organization controls land but requires weapons.

Soon after Bedlam Bravo is called upon to disrupt their plans, a VIP’s son is kidnapped while on a Peace Corps mission. Can they manage to disrupt the North Korean-al-Shabab axis and save the kidnapped son?

Team leader Colonel (retired) Trevor Franklin leads the small international team into East Africa. Tempers flare as the team is embroiled in a political quagmire. The axis must be stopped to avert an international crisis but will it be at the expense of the VIP’s son?

Books I’m Reading

I completed my review of another book written by one of the “Sunset Thrillers’ beta group. Since this is unpublished material, I won’t be providing any public feedback, but once the story’s available to everyone, I’ll be happy to do so. Now, I’m putting my notes together to provide to the writer and moving to the last book of the group.

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

I’ve now expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. Hope you’ll check out the links!

Lonely Blue Boy – written by Juan Sendison, who shares his poetry and thoughts with us.

Sacha Black – an interesting collection of writing tips and news by Sacha.

Writing Resources

I don’t have any new writing resources to share this week, although you might find something of interest in Sacha’s blog.  I hope to have something new for next week. Have an enjoyable weekend.

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

© Copyright 2016 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings – May 29, 2016

People around the United States are gathering with friends and family to enjoy the three-day weekend. Parades, parties, picnics, etc., are the agenda. Many know that Memorial Day is a time to honor our war dead. Cemeteries will be ablaze with small flags placed near the graves of those who served our country.

Borne out of the Civil War, Memorial Day is a good time to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. We should honor not only those who wore a uniform, but the countless men and women who served this country with honor and distinction in civilian roles and lost their lives doing so. 

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

I had exciting news this week. Of the many submissions I sent out in April, a publishing house contacted me requesting I send them the full manuscript. According to their website, ninety percent of submissions don’t make it past the initial query stage.

My manuscript will be sent to them tomorrow, after I finish a bit of fine-tuning and making sure the format is adjusted to their requirements.  Fingers crossed!

A bit more from ‘The Kurdish Connection’:

Ismet glared at Ben as Abdel translated. He unbuttoned his shirt to expose the purple-red scarring extending from his neck to his waist. Separate scars covered part of his face and around his right eye. As he stood, Ismet trembled, gasping for breath.

The rest of the day passed without incident; Ben learned MSF procedures and assisted with patients. He dealt with an elderly man in severe pain who needed a dentist, not a doctor, a young boy who fell and scraped an elbow and both knees, and a teenager looking for a magical cure for zits.

The man glanced around and lowered his voice. “My cousin can take you to Zakho. It’d be much faster, four hours. Special price for you, only two hundred thousand Iraqi dinars. If you pay with dollars, one hundred fifty.”

Be quicker, but can the ‘cousin’ be trusted or is this a set-up to rob a naïve foreigner? Jake shook his head. “No thanks, mate. I’m in no hurry. Curious about the length of the trip, but I’ll take the bus.”

More next week. If you’d like to read compete chapters, check out channillo.com.

My Work in Progress

Critique reviews of  ‘The Kurdish Connection’ continued this week. As always, I found excellent recommendations to improve the story.  My review is now complete through chapter eighteen. This past week I finished editing chapters fifteen and sixteen, and they’re re-posted to the two subscription writing sites I use. I also hacked away at chapter seventeen, a mission status report, and reduced it the wording to orders sent to the Bedlam team.

I began writing a short story for possible inclusion in an anthology organized by the Writer’s Network Club. The theme is nature. I won’t tell you want my story is about, yet, but the tentative title is ‘Lakeside Survival’.

Books I’m Reading

I completed my review of a book written by one of the “Sunset Thrillers’ beta group. Since this is unpublished material, I won’t be providing any public feedback, but once the story’s available to everyone, I’ll be happy to do so. Now, I’m reviewing another group member’s work.

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

I’ve now expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. Hope you’ll check out the links!

Oliver Chase’s Take on Life – a selection of short stories presented by Oliver, author of Levant Mirage, which I reviewed last week.

Miss Sissinghurst – a blog featuring advice and inspiration from writer and master gardener Vita Sackville-West.

Writing Resources

I don’t have any new writing resources to share this week as time ran out.  I hope to have something new for next week. Have an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.

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

© Copyright 2016 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings – May 22, 2016

Dare I tempt fate? Shh. We’ve had sunshine for the past week with temperatures ranging from 58 to 70.  Being on one of the Great Lakes, that’s good enough for this time of year. We continue to host a bevy of visitors in our apple tree, from blue jays, cardinals, to Baltimore orioles, rose-breast grosbeaks, and a pair of hummingbirds. Even a small squirrel partakes of the culinary delights waiting for our friends.

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

It’s been quiet on the writing front this week–no publishing house rejections (or offers). In the meantime, writing continues as and when external requirements allow.

Last week I mentioned joining channillo.com and posting chapters. I now have fourteen followers and three subscriptions. Off to a good start!

A bit more from ‘The Kurdish Connection’:

“We always anticipated something like this.” Afran rubbed at the patch over an eye lost in a Turkish attack the previous year.

“I agree—back home too much talk but no action.” Dersim continued in a whisper. “This is why some of the money from selling our goods will be given to help them.”

This was the first of many discussions regarding their support of the PKK freedom fighters, or as the Turkish government referred to them–terrorist.

An elderly woman approached Dersim as he returned to his vehicle. She held out her wrinkled, arthritic hands. “This is all I own of value. My husband’s—the Turks killed him.” On one palm lay a gold watch; on the other, six small gold coins, still attached to red ribbons, customary gifts given to couples on their wedding day.

Shades of ebony, crimson, and gold gave way to a deepening cobalt sky as the sun’s rays burned away the night. A lone golden eagle circled high above, scanning the ground in search of food.

“I used to sell brass, copper, carpets, other tourist things. Foreigners said my prices too cheap. Someone called me Charlie—I thought good name for business—Cheap Charlie’s.”

“What happened to your store?”

“Sold stuff too cheap, go out of business.”

More next week. If you’d like to read compete chapters, check out channillo.com.

My Work in Progress

I continued reviewing critiques and the “Sunset Thrillers” beta group feedback of ‘The Kurdish Connection’. As always, I found excellent recommendations to improve the story.  My review is now complete through chapter seventeen. This past week I finished editing chapters thirteen and fourteen, and they’re re-posted to the two subscription writing sites I use. Work on chapter fifteen is well underway and I hope to have it completed and posted this evening.

I also continued editing my submission for a Strongest Start Book Competition, ‘A Cartel’s Revenge’. Chapter one is now completed and posted.

Books I’m Reading

During the past week I finish reading ‘Levant Mirage‘ by Oliver F. Chase. This is a fast-pace and exciting read.  U.S. Army Major Adam Michaels‘ life is a roller-coaster ride, wealthy, divorced, a promising career shattered because of a battlefield mistake. On the brink of being forced out of the military, terrorists have Adam in their sights. The terrorists figured a way to use technology developed by Adam and two others in a forgotten life to threaten billions of people. Even the two who helped develop the technology aren’t what they seem. A riveting story that’s hard to put down once you begin reading.

I’m also reading a book written by one of the “Sunset Thrillers’ beta group. Since this is unpublished material, I won’t be providing any public feedback, but once the story’s available to everyone, I’ll be happy to do so.

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

I’ve now expanded this section from being only about blogs that I follow but also introduce you to some new authors and a few writing sites. Hope you’ll check out the links!

Sideways Eight Series – by AJ Wallace. I introduced AJ and her first novel, ‘Mindfield‘ a few weeks ago, but want to remind readers of this up and coming author.

James Radcliffe – Check out the blog of James Radcliffe–musician, writer, and spoken word artist. He donates a percentage of his profits to a charity helping orphaned children in Nepal.

Writing Resources

A writing colleague suggested two books to me this week:

The Scene Book – by Sandra Scofield. The author provides advice on creating more effective scenes.

Making a Scene – by Jordan Rosenfeld. Learn the fundamentals of constructing a strong scene and how character, plot, and dramatic tension function without the overall framework.

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

© Copyright 2016 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved.

Randall's Ramblings

Randall’s Ramblings – 24 Jan 2016

Today marks the first of my ramblings. Topics will vary from week to week, but will be related in some way to writing.  I’m also open to any suggested topics.

Why I want to Write–What’s Led Me to This Stage in My Life

In my high school, like many others, English was a mandatory subject.  However, writing composition was an elective.  The only problem–the writing composition teacher was an evil person.  I can’t remember her name now; it’s been too long.  However, I’ll never forget that she’d strip our work down to its basic components, and then guided us in creating something that flowed, with a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Was she evil? No. Was she a hard taskmaster? Yes. However, everyone who completed her classes could honestly say they learned something. 

So what happened next?  That’s for next time.

My Work in Progress

My first fiction novel will be called ‘The Kurdish Connection’ and the first draft is well under way.  Earlier this week I posted chapter 41 for review on http://scribophile.com and http://thenextbigwriter.com.  The chapter appeared late on January 20th, and so far there have been six written reviews.  Several excellent suggestions to enhance the chapter. It’s been suggested I post snippets of some of this work and will likely do that in the coming weeks.

I’ve also started work on ‘A Cartel’s Revenge’, which involves a regional leader of a Marxist insurgency group, Islamic State, the CIA and a double-crossed cartel boss. 

Blog Posts I’d Like to Share

I’ve become avid readers of the two blogs I’ve chosen to share this week.  Both provide insight and inspiration by looking at everyday things and sharing their thoughts, one through prose and the other via poetry. 

Fleeting Muse – a great site for poetry with a punch.

Down Many Roads – novels and shorts stories, based on where life has taken the author.

Books I’m Reading

I recently finished ‘The DCI Jones Casebook: Sean Freeman’ by Kerry Donovan.

Here’s my impression: “Sean Freeman is a master craftsman who’s turned to a life of crime. Or has he? What’s the motivation behind his choices? Kerry has written a work full of twists and turns that will keep you reading all night long. Just when I thought I knew how things would progress, something would pop up and surprise me. No wonder DCI Jones and his crew are busy with this case. Fantastic action, a smooth flow from beginning to end, and an excellent read.”

Next up to read: ‘Dead Charming’ by Ian Jackson. 

Writing Resources

There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of writing resources.  I don’t know about you, but I’m always look for new resources to improve my writing. Here are a couple that are now in my toolbox:

Strong Verbs Strong Voice

You’ve Reached the End

I’m afraid you’ve reached the end of this first edition of Randall’s Ramblings.  I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit and will come back for more.  A new edition will be posted each Sunday, and I’ll maintain the old posts in the archive.  If you have any suggestions for improving my ramblings, I’m all ears (and eyes, too). Thank you for stopping by!