Book Reviews

I appreciate all the book reviews I’ve received over the years for my Darcy McClain and Bullet Thriller series. But for a moment, I’d like to concentrate on one in particular that caught me by surprise. 

An acquaintance saw a print ad I had recently run in a local bulletin and was delighted to learn I’m an author. He quickly followed with, “I used to be an avid reader, but since my stroke, my attention span has never been the same. I find it hard to stay focused.” But he assured me he would buy Brainwash and do his best to read the book. 

A week later we bumped into each other again. He appeared excited to see me and I wondered why. Sure, we know one another, but he certainly had something on his mind and was eager to share it. With a broad smile on his face, almost bordering on a smug grin, he said, “This is a great book, and I’m back to reading like before my stroke. I couldn’t put the book down.” He was halfway through Brainwash and had purchased Gadgets so as not to break his momentum. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Not about the book sales, but that the series had helped someone in a most unexpected way. 

Three weeks passed and I hadn’t seen him. I grew a bit concerned and asked about him from mutual friends. He was on vacation visiting family in his hometown in North Dakota. When we met up again, he had read Genocide and was almost done reading CLON-X. That impressed me, but what touched me the most? He had a thank-you gift for me. And what better than a book from a local author in his home state – Lori L. Orser’s Spooky Creepy North Dakota. What a fitting title right in time for Halloween! 

I read it in two days. I loved the haunted stories, but, as I’ve never visited either of the Dakotas, I also found the historical facts about locations and people informative. I had both states on my bucket list and all reservations made for visits. Then Covid hit, derailing those vacation plans. Both states are now back on the list. 

A parting comment. In Lori’s book she states: “Like most places, North Dakota has plenty of what would be called urban legends in a more populated state. Here, we call them rural legends. These are stories with only one source, and no one to confirm or disprove them, but whose authenticity as history can only be considered as dubious!”

Her statement regarding authenticity as history certainly hit home, harkening back to my blog post titled “Fact, Fiction, or Contradiction?”

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Blue Angel

So far, every novel in the Darcy McClain and Bullet Thriller Series has come to life in pretty much the same way. I start with a spark of an idea. Often, these sparks come years in advance of the actual novel. When they do, I stow them away for future use. For example, chapter one of book four flared to life in 2003 during a walk with my first giant schnauzer, Shotz. She found a trash bag in a creek in Keller, Texas. The spark for CLON-X.

In many cases, an ending soon follows. While the last chapter may change – and usually for the better by the time the plot unfolds – not once has the concept for the opening chapters been altered in any major way. Each one has set the tone for the plot to unfold. 

The mind of a writer is an interesting phenomenon. Who troops through an arroyo in Taos, New Mexico, picking up trash left behind by those who disrespect the land, and ends up collecting, among other things, a filthy floppy disk? It isn’t just a disk, but the impetus for an entire book, Brainwash. 

Or why can’t the author simply attend a fun event like the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Festival without conjuring up an explosion, blowing a hot air balloon out of the sky with a laser no less? Gadgets is born. 

While on vacation in San Francisco and snapping photos of the Palace of Fine Arts, the author envisions this as the ideal place for a murder, Genocide.

A weekend getaway to an upscale hotel in Dallas to celebrate an anniversary becomes the perfect location to stage a massive fire to cover the true reason for the blaze. And there’s the spark for book five, Blue Angel.

Synopsis for Blue Angel

Darcy’s best friend, Samantha Logan, is lured out of retirement by the CIA for a Special Op. When Sam doesn’t show up in Dallas as planned, Darcy senses that Sam is in trouble and begins to track her whereabouts. Her desperate hunt leads Darcy on a footrace across Europe, always trailing steps behind, until she resorts to help from her canine partner, Bullet.

To complicate matters, the CIA is concerned that Darcy and Bullet will blow Sam’s cover and expose the secret operation, so the Agency deploys field agents to stalk them. As if that weren’t enough, Darcy’s former FBI partner, Dan, is worried that both women might be in grave danger, so he’s shadowing them as well.

Thrown back into the environment in which she was raised, Darcy learns the shocking truth about her childhood. These startling revelations shake her adult world, and will change her life forever.

My Favorite Question

The one I’m hearing a lot lately. When is Blue Angel coming out? I actually love the question because it means you’re eager to know more about what Darcy and Bullet are getting up to. So now you have your first hint. Want to track the progress of getting their latest adventure into your hands? That’s all going to be in my monthly newsletter, which will also feature new blog posts. To subscribe, go to patkrapf.com. I promise not to spam your inbox. You’ll only hear from me monthly. And you can opt out at any time. But, of course, I hope you’ll stay. 


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Repeat after Me: Write, Edit, and Edit Some More

In 2011, for a number of reasons, but primarily time, I decided to self-publish my Darcy McClain and Bullet Thriller Series. I felt it was time to cut out the middleman and sell directly to the buyer—my readers. The books would either sell—or languish—in online retail sites or brick and mortar bookstores.

As an author, my first priority was to produce a quality product, one I could be proud of from cover to cover. So my first order of business was to hire an editor, a professional invaluable to the success of your novel. Right on the heels of hiring an editor, I hired a professional book cover designer. 

Having written my first novel and experienced firsthand how much work goes into turning out a quality book, I knew the editing part would be time-consuming and tedious, especially since my plots center on technology or science. A good writer will do her utmost to be spot-on with facts. It takes an inordinate amount of time to thoroughly research various subjects, but it ensures the authenticity and the feasibility of your plotlines. Therefore, one of my main criteria for hiring the “right” editor was a keen eye for detail, in addition to the traditional skills an editor brings to producing a quality manuscript.

When I decided to self-publish, I had already written five novels in the series and had rough drafts for an additional three, so I wanted to find an editor I could build a long-term relationship with, someone who could grow with my characters as they grew, someone who knew them almost as well as I knew them. Sure, situations change for any number of reasons, and the editor you have today may not be available tomorrow, so you have to be flexible. Still, I hired my first editor with the hope of having her on board for the life of the series. And when I felt I needed a second editor, a fresh pair of eyes, I hired her with the same thought, hoping she would be available to edit the entire Darcy McClain and Bullet Thriller Series. Why hire a second editor? I’ll get to that in a moment.

Recently, I’ve read several articles about editors missing or making mistakes during their edits. Editing is far more than simply finding typos in a manuscript, but it seems that many newbie authors like to point out mistakes or challenge their editors regarding oversights or errors. Sure, I’ve come across typos or errors that have been overlooked, but there is a polite way to point them out to your editor. If they are minor, I simply make the correction(s) during one of my many passes of the edited book. Personally, I don’t expect—and have never expected—my editor to apologize for any oversight. Editing is, in my opinion, a collaborative effort between my editors, proofreader, and me. We are all striving for the same goal.

I learned early on that to catch over 95 percent of your mistakes, especially with plots centered on a tech or medical theme, the more pairs of fresh eyes on the manuscript, the better. Yes, there will always be a margin of error. So to ensure the level of excellence all editors, proofreaders, and authors are striving for, hire more eyes as an insurance policy.  

To date, my most complex plot was in Genocide, book three in the series. I wrote the first draft in 1990 and the novel had undergone extensive edits, but none by a professional until 2015. The book was released in 2017. Because of the complexity of the plot, its scientific theme, and the cadre of characters, my “test readers” (also known as beta readers), none of whom were professional editors, suggested I simplify the plot. Intimately familiar with the plot and the characters, I had no problem keeping track of these elements and no intention of simplifying the plot. Instead, I decided to hire an additional set of editorial eyes and have her either agree or disagree with my test readers’ assessment. That was when I hired my second editor, as well as a proofreader. Expense-wise, is hiring two or more editors always feasible? No, but fortunately, the investment has paid off in good reviews and steady sales.

Even after ten pairs of fresh eyes on the manuscript, excluding my own, my proofreader emailed me to point out that she was confused by my dockworker Don being in two places at once. I had inadvertently given two different characters the same name. None of us had caught this oversight, minor in the entire scheme of the five-hundred-plus-page novel. But the catch was most appreciated—proving that once again, editing is a collaborative effort. 

One of the most rewarding compliments I have ever received from a reader was this: “Genocide is really four books in one when you look at the richness in the storylines and the fireworks at the end. I keep being amazed about all the topics Krapf has researched and talks so easily about in her books. She made a complex plot with a large cast of characters simple to understand and easy to follow.” This I attribute to listening to my test readers and then hiring a team of good editors to reach our goal. 

Most traditionally published books go through multiple editing passes and rounds of proofreading, and still errors of one kind or another slip through. As much as we would love to be perfect, we are not, but that doesn’t keep good editors and proofreaders from striving for perfection. So much goes into editing. And as I pointed out earlier, editing is far more than simply spotting typos. While this is important, it’s minor in comparison to the many hats an editor must wear—for example, the skills they bring to the table include developmental, substantive editing, stylistic editing, copy editing, and proofreading, all of which are time-consuming and demanding in their requirements. And certainly all authors require more than one type of editing. Read more about the different levels of editing here: https://www.sokanu.com/careers/editor/

Your first step as an author is to polish and repolish your work to make it the best manuscript possible before submitting it to your editor. Not only will this cut your editing time and reduce your editing costs, but it will also greatly decrease the number of mistakes in your manuscript. And remember that mistakes are best prevented by doing more rounds of editing, and by more than one editor. 

I mentioned that editing is a collaborative effort, a partnership between the author, the editor(s), proofreader, all working toward the same goal: to produce a quality product. A fellow writer once bragged that he had published over seventeen books, and wannabe authors admired him for being so prolific. Half an hour later, he informed me he had fired his editor because four of his books had been released with “untold errors.” I asked him if he had reviewed the book, word by word, after it had been edited. Well, no. Do you? I do. As arduous a task as it may be, especially after all the effort and time spent researching and writing the book, I reread the book at every step along the way—multiple times during the polishing stage, after every edit, and after it has been typeset, as errors can occur after the book has been laid out as well. After the book has been proofread, I read the novel again, and I read the proof copy from Amazon before the book is released for sale. And recently I listened to and read along with my entire novel, Brainwash—four times during audiobook production. 

Whether you are a new author or a number-one bestselling author, you will make mistakes. Just be gracious enough to admit them, correct them if you can, and then move on. Mistakes happen. Even Sandra Brown acknowledges them. Under her contact information you will find this disclaimer: Damaged Books, Typos, Etc. Typos happen. We do our best to catch them, and believe us when we say each manuscript passes through many many sets of eyes and hands, but those eyes and hands are human. Please forgive us.  


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