The Lone Star State

Friends and readers have often asked if I would ever set a book in Texas. For years, my standard reaction was to laugh and shoot back with, “Why would I?” Sure, I love where I live in the Lone Star State, but set a book here? After all, what’s so intriguing about living in the Eastern Cross Timbers region of North Texas that a fiction author would set a thriller here? But in the end, that’s exactly what I did. I set book four, CLON-X, in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  

Once I began to research the history of the DFW area, I discovered reasons to do a re-think. The more I learned, the more addicted I became to knowing more about those early settlers who made the Texas Plains their new home. And as a person who has a deep respect for and love of the land – not to mention being an outdoors person – I immersed myself not only in their stories, but also in the knowledge of the land itself. 

The Cross Timbers is a forest-grassland ecoregion with both savannah and woodlands of post oak, blackjack oaks, and my personal favorite, the eastern red cedar. Some consider the red cedar to be an invasive species, but my love endures. The oaks in the Cross Timbers area were not considered usable timber, so deforestation wasn’t widely practiced there. As a result, these old-growth forests contained millions of post oaks from 200 to 400 years old and red cedar over 500 years old. In 1835, one early American explorer who forged a path through the Cross Timbers terrain described it “like struggling through a forest of cast iron.”

After the history of North Texas dug its hooks into me, I found myself devouring anything and everything related to the early settlers who called Texas the Lone Star State. Why and how did Texas come by this moniker? Theories abound as to the exact story, but it seems the tale begins south of the border. 

When Texas was a province of Mexico, the land that’s known today as the state of Texas encompassed two areas called Coahuila y Tejas. It’s thought that the original flag for this land bore two gold stars in the middle of the red, green, and white stripes of the Mexican flag. Once Texas won its independence from Mexico, the victory resulted in the design of a new flag for the independent Republic of Texas. That first flag, and subsequent variations of it, all featured a lone star, representing defiance, pride and — most importantly — independence, with the red, white, and blue representing, respectively, bravery, purity, and loyalty. All noble traits.

Although we no longer live in a freestanding republic, Texans still pride themselves on their rugged individualism and independent spirit. And as you might expect, the people who are happy to make Texas their home still have that “Lone Star State” spirit. 

Texas joined the Union on December 29, 1845, as the 28th state. I have discovered that, as with so much of history, controversy surrounds even the Texas flag. Who designed it? The Texas State Library and Archives Commission says the flag was designed by Austin artist Peter Krag for $200. Read more about the flag controversies at https://www.kut.org/austin/2016-06-15/why-nobody-knows-who-designed-the-texas-flag 

As someone who’s happy to call Texas home, I find my appetite to learn more about my adopted state has definitely taken hold. Read more about Texas history by starting here https://patkrapf.com/texas-the-german-belt/ Then follow me through the archives of the Lone Star State.

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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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