Texas Author Pat Krapf

Let’s Talk Writing


Let's Talk Writing with Author Pat Krapf

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 . . .

Genocide by Author Pat KrapfEditors 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.

Genocide by Author Pat KrapfIs the p in your last name silent? 

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.

Ive 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 writers 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.


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South Carolina: Charleston Houses of Worship

Houses of Worship in Charleston SC

We started our second day in Charleston with a houses of worship tour. There were many more sites than the ones I had chosen, but time was a constraint, and we planned to return for a longer stay in the future. Our tour had actually begun the previous day on Sullivan’s Island when I spotted the steeple tower of Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church projecting high over Fort Moultrie. See photo of the fort and the church in my post about Fort Moultrie.

The current Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church is the second Catholic church on Sullivan’s Island, and is one of the oldest in the Charleston area. The first church to sit on the site was the Church of St. John the Baptist. Miraculously, it survived the extensive bombing of Fort Moultrie by federal troops and was the only public building left standing after the Civil War. The initial plan called for a restoration of the small wooden building. But Father Bermingham, vicar general of the Diocese of Charleston, decided to build a new church. He bought the present-day lot for $100 and was granted permission by the secretary of the war to use bricks from the ruins of Fort Moultrie to build the new church. Working side by side, Protestants and Catholics, most of them Irish immigrants who had come to the island to work on projects carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers, helped with the construction of the church. Upon completion, an elaborate ceremony was held to celebrate the dedication of Stella Maris. In attendance were both Protestants and Catholics.

St. Philip's Episcopal Church

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church

First on my list was the Circular Congregational Church on Meeting Street, originally called the White Meeting House. Founded in 1681 by early colonialists, it was the city’s first non-Anglican church. The colonialists were labeled “dissenters,” and therefore forbidden to call the church a house of worship, only a meeting house. In 1804, the wooden meeting house was replaced with a circular brick building, which was destroyed by fire in 1861. In 1890, bricks from the ruins were used to create the present-day church. A stroll through the church’s cemetery is a must. One tombstone dates back to 1695.

Our next stop was St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, home to the oldest religious congregation in South Carolina and the first Anglican church south of Virginia. The first St. Philip’s Church was built between 1680 and 1681, a modest wooden building located at the corner of Board and Meeting streets. It was damaged in a hurricane in 1710, and a new St. Philip’s Church was built a few blocks away on Church Street. After several setbacks, the church was finally completed in 1723, but it burned to the ground in 1835 and was reconstructed.

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church

What lured me to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church was its iconic 186-foot-high massive white spire with eight bells imported from England in 1764. Of note, it was here in the cedar-box pews that George Washington and General Robert E. Lee worshipped. The first church to sit on this site was the first St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, the wooden building damaged by the hurricane of 1710.

A friendly woman welcomed us as we climbed the steps to the French Huguenot Church. I first learned about the denomination while living in South Africa. The church traces its beginnings to 1680 when French Protestants—Huguenots—were sent by King Charles II to the new colony as artisans and tradesmen. In 1685, when the Edict of Nantes (1598) was revoked, Huguenots arrived in numbers in America, where they could freely practice their Calvinistic faith. The Gothic Revival-style structure was built of brick and covered in rose-tinted stucco, complementing the roof’s black iron finials. I was quite captivated by the church’s appearance.

French Huguenot Church - houses of worshipThe Edict of Nantes was, in my opinion, Henri IV’s greatest achievement. The terms of the edict ensured the peaceful coexistence of Catholics and Protestants and ended religious hostilities in France after thirty-six years of civil warfare. But in 1685, Louis XIV revoked the edict, and a Protestant exodus began. The French Huguenots who fled France for South Africa arrived in the Cape of Good Hope between 1688 and 1689. These French immigrants and their descendants made important contributions to the Western Cape’s viticulture and oenology industries, and to this day, a number of wine estates still bear their Huguenot surnames.

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist has dominated the Charleston landscape for over a hundred years and is one of the many churches that gives Charleston its nickname “The Holy City.” The Gothic Revival cathedral is home to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston and is considered the “mother church.” It was built in 1854 on a less-than-holy site—Vauxhall Gardens—a post-Revolutionary “pleasure garden.” The cathedral burned down in the Great Fire of 1861 and was rebuilt on the foundation of the previous church. The structure is a Connecticut brownstone with a five-light window copied from Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper and a beautiful rose window.

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim SynagogueFounded in 1749, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE) Synagogue is the second oldest Jewish house of worship in the US and the oldest one in continuous use. Charleston was known for its religious tolerance, so people of the Jewish faith began emigrating to “The Holy City” as early as 1695. The oldest synagogue in the US is Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island.

Across the street from KKBE is St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, the first Roman Catholic church in the Carolinas and Georgia. By the late eighteenth century, Charleston had a sufficient number of Catholic immigrants to warrant building a church. In 1788, Reverend Ryan, an Irish priest, arrived in Charleston, and in 1801 construction began on the church. In the meantime, the congregation worshipped in the dilapidated Methodist meeting house that was on the site. Most of the church burned during the Charleston fire of 1838. It was rebuilt and completed in 1839 in the Classical Revival style.

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church

The last church, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, brought tears to my eyes—tears for the nine fatally shot on June 2015 during weekly Bible study. The Gothic Revival building with its signature steeple was built in 1891, replacing a wooden building from 1872 that was damaged during the Charleston earthquake of 1886. The church dates back to 1816, when Morris Brown organized a withdrawal of the Charleston Methodist Episcopal Church’s black members over a burial ground dispute. The newly formed congregation soon established themselves as an AME, a denomination founded in Philadelphia by Reverend Richard Allen, and it is the oldest AME church in the South.

We spent the rest of the day soaking up Charleston’s history, enjoying its charm, and admiring its architecture, ending with dinner at SNOB (Slightly North of Broad)—shrimp with grits and peanut butter pie.

Side note: I had no idea how many fires Charleston had experienced until I dug into the city’s history. Learn more here on the Preservation Society of Charleston website.


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Fort Moultrie: Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

In my last post, I blogged about my alma mater, Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) in Harrogate, Tennessee, in the Cumberland Gap, near the junction where Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia meet. Proud of the university’s continued success, high college rankings, and flourishing private school, I satisfied my renewed curiosity in the campus and the history of the region by doing some in-depth research on the school and eastern Tennessee in general. This delving led me to Dr. Earl J. Hess’s book, Lincoln Memorial University and the Shaping of Appalachia. I immediately placed my Amazon order, only to discover that the book is temporarily out of stock. Dr. Hess is a student of Civil War history and grew up in rural Missouri. Since 1989, he has been at LMU and is an associate professor of history. He is also well published. I am eagerly awaiting my copy of his book.

The morning after we visited LMU, a heavy smoky-blue fog hung over the mountains, and mist specked our jackets as we prepared to leave the Inn on Biltmore Estate for the drive from Asheville to Charleston, South Carolina. Although the hotel staff in Charleston had assured us the city hadn’t experienced severe flooding, we decided to leave Asheville early, giving ourselves plenty of time to make the four-hour drive south, especially since Columbia was one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Joaquin. As it turned out, we experienced no high-water delays along Highway 26 but did lose an hour stuck in two accidents. One involved several cars—no one badly injured, thank goodness—and the other, unfortunately, was a deer hit by an SUV.

Fountain at Waterfront Park

Fountain at Waterfront Park

Charleston is a charming, colorful town, steeped in history. Although I love all things modern and thrive on being a minimalist, I have a fascination for historic buildings—their architecture and their stories. The moment I threw back the curtains in our hotel room at the Belmond Charleston Place, I immediately noticed all the church spires. Other loves of mine are houses of worship and cemeteries, so a church tour was definitely on my agenda. But first Dave wanted to see the waterfront, so we put our church tour on hold until the next day.

Waterfront Park Promenade

Waterfront Park Promenade

We stepped out of our hotel to a humid, subtropical afternoon, but as we neared Waterfront Park a soft breeze coming off the coast squelched any real heat. The park has great views of the Charleston Harbor and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, a white, cable-stayed suspension bridge with two diamond-shaped towers that spans the Cooper River. It connects Charleston to Mount Pleasant and is an impressive 573 feet high and 2.7 miles long, and it has eight lanes in addition to a shared twelve-foot-wide pedestrian/bicycle path.

After we strolled Waterfront Park and snapped shots of the water fountains and a sailboat cruising the harbor waters, we took a leisurely walk through the cobblestoned side streets, just soaking in the sunshine and our surroundings, and working up our dinner appetites. That night, we had reservations at McCrady’s Tavern, built in 1778. The restaurant’s entrance is located down a narrow cobblestone alley off East Bay Street. The service was excellent and the food good.

On our first full day in Charleston, we drew straws, figuratively, and agreed to take our island tour in the morning and our house of worship tour in the afternoon. We both wanted to visit Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island. We grabbed coffees to go, hopped into our rental, and sped away toward the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

Plaque at Fort Moultrie

Plaque at Fort Moultrie

Fort Moultrie, a coastal fortification, was built to guard the harbors and shores of the United States from as early as the first European settlements until the end of World War II. Fort Moultrie has defended Charleston Harbor twice: during the American Revolutionary War when it was attacked by the British fleet, and again nearly a century later during the Civil War when federal forces bombarded Charleston from land and sea. In 1776, after a nine-hour battle when Charleston was saved from British occupation, the fort was named for its commander, William Moultrie.

In early March of 1776, Colonel Moultrie, a former militiaman who was later promoted to general, was ordered to Sullivan’s Island to build a seacoast defense on the shielded harbor. The purpose was to make an invasion as costly as possible, or better still, to prevent invaders from landing. It was unrealistic to think that such a fort, even one well armed with troops and cannons, could annihilate the enemy, but it could certainly slow them down. Any large vessel entering Charleston had to first cross Charleston Bar, a series of submerged sandbanks lying about eight miles from the city. Most ships ran aground and became stuck, and were then more vulnerable to attack.

Fort Moultrie (foreground) with Stella Maris Catholic Church (background)

Fort Moultrie (foreground) with Stella Maris Catholic Church (background)

Work on the square-shaped fort began by cutting thousands of spongy palmetto logs, which became the foundation for an immense pen, five hundred feet long and sixteen feet wide, filled with sand to stop the shot. The workers constructed cannon platforms and nailed them together with spikes. During the construction, George Washington dispatched General Charles Lee and two thousand soldiers to assist in Charleston’s defense. Lee’s appearance alone boosted morale among the South Carolina troops. But after Lee viewed Charleston’s defenses, his worries mounted. Moultrie commanded only thirty-one cannons and a garrison of less than four hundred men. And the fort was hastily erected, with only thick planks guarding the powder magazine, and the curtain walls on the north side of the fort weren’t even finished.

US Flag over Fort Moultrie

US Flag over Fort Moultrie

In mid-May, Charlestonians received word that the formidable British fleet was massing at Cape Fear. On June 1, the fleet finally appeared, about fifty sail in all, and anchored outside of the bar. Moultrie termed the battle “one continual blaze and roar,” and it raged on for hours, until the garrison was running out of powder. Word was sent to Lee, and seven hundred pounds of powder reached the fort defenders later in the day, allowing them to fend off the enemy. The British had used thirty-two thousand pounds of powder and the Americans less than five thousand. Within days of the battle came the signing of the Declaration of Independence.


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