Hardwired

CLON-X

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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Fact, Fiction, or Contradiction?

During my research of Texas history, a persistent point kept hitting home –something I had never given much thought to, but should have. Often the accuracy of the details and the authenticity of the events were called into question as contradictions arose in the storytelling. Of the few people who knew the stories, almost none were professional writers. In fact, many pioneers couldn’t read or write and often led solitary lives with no one to witness or chronicle their experiences. Of those who wrote personal journals, their diaries were very late in surfacing, some only in this century. As for the stories handed down by word of mouth, there’s no way to tell if any had been embellished as the narratives passed from one person to the next. 

That’s why I read with great interest Journal of A Trapper, a personal log written by frontiersman Osborne Russell, recounting his nine years as a fur trapper in the Rocky Mountains from 1834 to 1843. His firsthand descriptions of the mountain terrain and lush valleys inspired me. As he trapped in the greater Yellowstone region before leaving the solitary mountain life to settle in Oregon, his encounters with grizzlies and wolves were at times hair raising, and his run-ins with the American Indians were sometimes, but not always, hostile.

This rather lengthy prelude brings me to another question. What really happened at the Alamo? When I read historian John Myers’ book on the history of The Alamo, it was obvious that the author had done exhaustive research to lay bare the authenticity of the siege and the legendary characters – Bowie, Travis, Crockett, and Santa Ana – who were behind the heroism that made the Alamo story immortal. But I also wish historians had given more credence to Travis’s slave, Joe, who was interviewed a few days after the siege but whose statements were put aside. He was described as intelligent, and he was there to see what happened – one of the few people able to give a firsthand account. That prompted me to learn more about Joe’s story of the battle at the Alamo. Read more about Joe: https://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Joe%20Article.pdf. 

My fascination with knowing more about Joe paralleled my prior research on another slave, Bob Jones, who overcame enormous obstacles to become a prosperous landowner in the Roanoke-Southlake area, a well-respected rancher, and family man. Link back to prior blog post on Bob Jones.

Impressed by Myers’s exhaustive research and his dedication to chronicle the details of the Alamo, I promptly bought his book titled The Saga of Hugh Glass: Pirate, Pawnee, and Mountain Man. Is this legendary hero’s story true? Did Glass survive being mauled by a grizzly bear and, when left for dead by his fellow trappers, have the will and fortitude to crawl for six weeks until he reached the nearest settlement for help? Buy the book and judge for yourself. 

Then analyze the two movies that were based on Hugh Glass’s life and ask yourself this question. Was either the 1971 movie, Man in the Wilderness starring Richard Harris, or the more recent movie, The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio, an authentic depiction of the remarkable real-life survival story of Hugh Glass? Or were they more Hollywood than historically accurate?

Hitting closer to home, how many of us have taken time from our busy schedules to chronicle our own lives? When was the last time we sat down with our family and asked those all-important questions that seem to arise after our loved ones are deceased?  I often find myself thinking, “Why didn’t I ask before they passed on? Now I’ll never know.” 

On a side note but related, almost every time I charge my camera batteries I muse, What a great invention! How I wish digital SLRs had been around during all those years of growing up overseas. Sure, I have Polaroids, but the quality is lacking and fades with age. On the other hand, photos in general are wonderful visual memories of times past. I did keep a diary of those informative years aboard, and I’m thankful that my father kept a log . . . of certain events. But nothing compares to a face-to-face talk to get the facts, cutting out the fiction or contradiction from the truth.

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