This is a guest blog post from Fiona Raven Book Design. Fiona designed the covers and the interior layouts for Brainwash and Gadgets and the cover for Genocide. Inserting a USB drive as the “I” in Brainwash is a signature feature and I have chosen to continue with this look throughout the cover designs. She also split the word Brainwash to make the title larger. In Gadgets, the laser beam splices the “T” after it exits the hot air balloon. And in Genocide, the “I” is a syringe. The CLON-X Continue reading
After several edits, Genocide, book three in the Darcy McClain and Bullet thriller series, is with Caroline, one of my editors, for what I hope is the last round. The book has passed through three pairs of eyes: Caroline’s, Arlene’s (my other editor), and my own. Discussing book edits brings to mind a blog post Arlene wrote in July of this year. Like Arlene, I have also experienced sleepless nights and anguish worrying about potential mistakes in my books, and like many authors, I have done my best to avoid errors. A brief excerpt from Arlene’s article follows:
When editors make mistakes . . .
Editors make mistakes? What? How dare I go on record to state such a thing! Right off, let’s get one thing clear: editorial errors are inevitable. If that surprises you, it shouldn’t—we’re only human, after all (I know that’s hard to believe). While many editors are perfectionists, most of us also know perfection is impossible to achieve. Let me tell you from firsthand experience that the quest for perfection in a world where perfection doesn’t exist is an issue that causes many of us a great deal of anguish and even sleepless nights. It’s one of the hazards of the job. Can a book be error free?
Read her entire post, “When editors make (or miss) mistakes…”
While Caroline edits Genocide, I am taking a short break from novel writing before I begin the first of many revisions to book four in my series, Clonx. It is currently in draft form. The thriller is set largely in Texas, but some chapters are set in New Mexico, where Darcy and Rio return to settle some personal matters. The scientific subject of the novel is cloning. In Clonx, Darcy is in Texas for Vicky’s wedding. While on her daily run, Bullet discovers a trash bag submerged in a creek. Inside are the pulverized remains of renowned geneticist Dr. Catherine “Cate” Lord, who has been under fire from Zyclon, a bioethics advocacy group diametrically opposed to her research on human cloning. Although the evidence points to Zyclon as the prime suspect in her murder, Darcy soon discovers Cate had many enemies and any one of them had good reason to kill her.
To kick off my writing series, I’ll answer questions I’ve received from readers. Some have already been addressed in past blog posts, which I will link to, but I am happy to respond again and/or give more detailed answers as some readers have requested. Five questions I have repeatedly been asked are general in nature, so let’s start there.
Are you related to Patrick Krapf? Have you seen him on YouTube? Why do you have such loud music on your website?
Three different questions from three different readers, but all associated in one way. No, I am not related to Patrick Krapf that I know of. And if you hear loud music or don’t like the videos on my website, as some blog subscribers have mentioned, you are on the wrong website. I’ve never had music or videos on my site, but I do plan to add book trailers in the near future, so please watch for them.
Speak to Americans and most will tell you yes. But when I asked several German friends, they responded unanimously—no. “You definitely do pronounce the p and the f in Krapf as “pfhh.” If your last name was Kraph, then the p would be silent and it would be pronounced as an f.” There you have it, straight from several Germans. And if you can master the “pfhh,” you have my admiration. I have not succeeded in doing so without spitting on anyone, so I have since refrained and fallen back on the silent p. On an interesting note, after considering this reader’s question and conducting some research on the surname, I discovered the name, which has many variations in spelling, was first recorded in South Holland around Rotterdam before appearing in the Bavarian region of Germany. And citing genealogical websites, the first Krapf migrated to the US in 1748 and settled in Pennsylvania where most Krapfs still reside today. An equal number live in the state of New York.
When you are not writing, what are your favorite ways to relax?
Spending time with Kai, my giant schnauzer, gardening, photography, cooking, and traveling.
What inspired you to write?
A promise I made to myself. At age eight my reading skills sucked, and my third-grade teacher informed my parents I would never get into college unless I improved. So every weekday night while everyone else watched television, I sat in my bedroom with my mother and together we plowed through the Nancy Drew, then the Hardy Boys series. It was a slow start, but five months later you couldn’t pry a book from my hands. I was addicted to reading and told my mother, “I’m going to write a book one of these days.” Granted, it was many years before I fulfilled that dream, but I released the first book in the series, Brainwash, in April 2014, and the second, Gadgets, in 2015. Both are available in print and e-book on Amazon .
Was Brainwash your first novel?
No, my first novel was Blind Revenge, a standalone. Later, I will incorporate it into the Darcy McClain series and retitle it.
I’ve seen your title Brainwash as one word and two words. Which is correct?
In terms of the book, either one. The word “brainwash” is one word and the title was intended to be one word, but my cover designer, Fiona Raven, made it two so it would stand out. This allowed us to make the type bigger and bolder, especially “WASH,” which is a shaded yellow in color.
How do you come up with titles?
I focus on short titles—quick recognition and easy memorization—and ones that sum up the essence of the entire book, if possible. For example, Brainwash was the name of the artificial intelligence/nanotechnology program being carried out by Los Alamos National Laboratories. The program was the scientific plot for the novel. In Gadgets, Paco was a gadget geek who loved to own the latest in new technology and had the expertise and knowledge to build his own weapons. A Genocide is the mass murder of a group of people, and this thriller is based on plot to exterminate all gays and lesbians. Someone recently asked me if all of my book titles would begin with B or G. No, that the first four novels I have written do, is a fluke. And as I stated above, Blind Revenge will be retitled when it is released.
How do you find time to write?
I make time. And it helps that writing is an addiction. Often it controls me. I also credit my ingrained self-discipline—a learned trait from my high school days when I was enrolled in correspondence courses from the University of Nebraska Extension Division. I worked to a strict schedule then, and I do today. I set goals, prioritize them, and assign deadlines. This routine works well for me.
Do you get writer’s block?
I’ve suffered from writer’s block on three occasions. First, as a young writer with little life experience, and therefore little to say. However, I did write poetry occasionally, a few short stories, and I kept a diary throughout my adolescence. My second bout was when I decided to write my first book, Blind Revenge. I began by writing romance, or attempted to. I like romance, but it simply wasn’t the genre for me, and I came to this conclusion when, four weeks later, I was still staring at the same six-paragraph page. The last time I experienced writer’s block was in 2013 after my web designer Lindsay said, “You really should blog on your website.” My first thought: Blog about what? My second thought: Blogging is time-consuming. A week later, I came across an article titled “The Problem With Memoirs” by Neil Genzlinger, staff editor at The New York Times. Many years ago, I toyed with writing a memoir, but always came to the same conclusion as Mr. Genzlinger: “There was a time when you had to earn the right to draft a memoir.” I’m not interested in writing a full-blown memoir, so I’ve settled for writing a blog biography. Spending my formative years overseas was in many ways a unique experience, but the high points can be covered in a series of blogs, emphasizing what is noteworthy and glossing over the ordinary. There are people in this world who have achieved the remarkable or overcome great obstacles; for them a memoir is fitting.
Next week: “Why Techno-Thrillers?”
When my editor, Caroline Kaiser, approached me to participate in a blog hop not only had I never heard the term, but I had some reservations. I was already blogging on my website and blogging takes time. However, given the opportunity to talk about writing, especially about what I am currently working on, was hard to pass up.
1. What are you working on/writing?
At the moment, I am dividing my time between wrapping up edit corrections to Gadgets, the second novel in my Darcy McClain thriller series, and fleshing out the details for my fourth Darcy novel, which is set in Texas where I live.
In my thriller series, Darcy, my main character, owns a giant schnauzer named Bullet. In real life, I too have a giant as my constant companion. While walking him one day on the trails in Keller (the town I lived in then), he came across a trashbag floating in a nearby stream. I made the mistake of opening the bag. Horrified, when I discovered the putrid remains of something, I contacted the police. They informed me that someone had shot a deer out of season, butchered it, then discarded the carcass. Of course, my imagination ran wild and this is how my fourth novel came about.
2. How does your work/writing differ from others in its genre?
The Darcy McClain Series can best be described as a techno-thriller series since the backbone of my novels are centered on technology and science. The twist? On occasion, I do crossover into the science fiction genre if I feel that a certain element will enhance the storyline. For instance, in Brainwash, Darcy must face an army of telepathic humanoids and attempt to outsmart them or be killed.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I began my literary career writing romance, but soon discovered I wasn’t good at it, so I decided to write about what I did know. For years, I worked in the health care and aerospace industries, so technology and I were a good fit. A friend suggested I write a series. She loved following a “continuing character,” so I took her suggestion.
4. How does your writing process work?
I grew up overseas. When it came time to attend high school I lived in Liberia and the country didn’t have a good school system, so I enrolled in correspondence courses from the University of Nebraska. I would have my father wake me at 5 a.m. when he woke to get ready for work. I’d start my studies at 6 a.m. while my brain was fresh and worked until noon. During the afternoons I wrote poetry and short stories. I didn’t feel I had a book in me. Not then. This regimen has stuck with me until this day. The only difference, my normal quitting time is around five p.m., not noon.
My main focus before I begin any book is to nail down my technical subject: nanotechnology, genetics, cloning, etc.. I outlined my first novel, but as I polished my craft, I abandoned this idea. I felt it served no real purpose. After I write each chapter, I stop to edit the chapter. I have never written an entire book without reading and rereading prior chapters. This method, I feel, helps to move the story along, at least for me.
Sometimes, I have a clear view of a beginning and an end. Other times I do not know how I will end the book, but leave it up to my character to resolve. In one Darcy McClain novel I fell in love with a title, then wrote the book around the title. In every case, so far, the storylines in the series have come from real life experiences. In Brainwash, Bullet discovers a USB in an arroyo in Taos. A similar incident occurred in real life, but the USB was a floppy disk. From there, I let my imagination run the gamut until the entire book unfolds.
Rather than outline, I found synopses to be more helpful in locating the deficiencies in my storylines. While I hate writing them, they can be invaluable to a sound manuscript and excellent material to draw upon for back cover copy and other promotional materials.
Next week: “Ceres Earthquake / South Africa.”