Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bake A Pie, Make A Setting

By: Daco

Congratulations to "Maureen C." the winner of Daco's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

RT Reviews rates THE LIBRA AFFAIR 4 out of 4 ½ STARS!

“Debut author Daco weaves a convoluted spy game, rather like a Jason Bourne movie – only instead of the usual male secret agent, we get Jordan Jakes...” 

“BAKE A PIE, MAKE A SETTING: the right ingredients make a delectable story”

Setting is important because it creates the mood and flavor of a story. Like a pie crust, it is the backdropthat defines where the story starts and finishes as well as how it develops along the way. Choosing the correct setting for any story is not unlike baking an apple pie. The right kind of apple makes the pie, the wrong one only makes soggy mess.
When starting a romantic suspense novel, it is important to setup the story so that the reader can identify not only the genre, but also who the characters are. You order applie pie, so you have expectations about that first bite. If it turns out to be a coconut cream, well, you’re probably not going to eat it unless it’s your second favorite pie. Location  dresses the characters without having to spell out the details. If you place a woman CIA covert operative in Iran, you immediately sense that her degree of freedom will be limited and that she will be working within a dangerous situation. Behavior, dress, and the ability to blend in with the local culture will be key to the success of her mission. Placing the same spy in Huntsville, Alabama without considering any other factors does not invoke the same degree of intrigue. To engage the reader, it is important to establish elements of suspense right from the start. Like a good crust, little flaky, not overdone, setting is the starting point.
All stories have pauses and sprints. While most suspense novels tend to move rather quickly from start to finish, developing deeper emotions requires a pause for characters to reflect on what is happening and also to consider the needs of the other characters. It would be difficult for the heroine to be breaking up with the hero while they are dodging bullets. Although this may happen in stories, a more plausible break up is when the heroine breaks the news in a more sincere manner, as taking a bullet to the chest or leg might not be the most appealing time to tell the hero he's history. Nor is a chase scene the right time to tell the hero that it's time for sex, even though he may appear to be the sexiest man alive at the time he is rescuing the heroine. That said, often times it is fun to have a scene where you do mix up the setting and pace. Think of it like adding smoked bacon to the apples; for some people it's the absolute bomb, but it probably doesn’t do much for an apple pie. Pacing is important because it guides the reader when to speed up and when to take a breath.Ready for pie, yet? Right, we need the ingredients.
So why choose the settings of Washington, DC and the Middle East for The Libra Affair? Choosing a setting is like choosing the type of pie we want to bake. For a suspense novel, we need the ingredients of power, danger, and intrigue; like apples, cinnamon, and sugar. When we think of spy stories, the first powerful image that comes to mind is Washington D.C.: Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, and all of our national monumental treasures. No words are necessary to establish the backdrop of power. Add the Middle East to the mix and danger is introduced. Throw in NASA, SpaceX, and the CIA, and intrigue is created. Walla!Perfecto!

THE LIBRA AFFAIR is the hero's and heroine's love story. On a larger scale, THELIBRA AFFAIR is about establishing world economic balance. Starting the story in Washington D.C. makes sense because it is the most powerful city in the world and gives credibility to the plot the Americans and Russians are concocting to level the international playing field. Heading into Iran mixes the ingredients. If all goes as planned, the pie will be served up warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Setting can be established not only by a place, but also by the use of landmarks, structures, and entities. The hero in THE LIBRA AFFAIR, Ben Johnson, is a NASA scientist whose laser experiment is scheduled to fly on SpaceX to the Space Station to perform testing on the destruction of space debris. Because he is employed by NASA, a governmental agency that denotes science and space exploration, it identifies him as smart and in touch with real issues today. When the heroine, Jordan Jakes, arrives in Tehran and drives past the Azadi Tower, the gateway to the capital city of Iran, this represent "freedom amidst the chaos" and the question of freedom is immediately raised. Like an apple pie, only add the ingredients that are necessary to the story; landmarks are like the fruit of a pie, you don’t add green peppers to the mix because it muddies the taste.
Now, let’s dish up! Who wants a scoop of ice cream?

Daco will be giving away a digital copy of THE LIBRA AFFAIR to one lucky person leaving a comment or email.

Daco’s debut novel released in eBook on April 8th, 2013, print to come later this year, is a romantic suspense entitled, THE LIBRA AFFAIR.

HER MISSION: Launch Libra.

Nothing can stand in the way of Jordan Jakes launching a missile in a remote desert of Iran. Not even Ben Johnson, the NASA scientist she’s targeted. Against all odds, Ben follows Jordan, placing not only the mission at risk, but also the fate of the world. Everything hinges on the strength of their love.

Chapter 1
“But you kissed that guy.”

“It was a game. A stupid bar game.” Jordan’s heart began to race, but she spoke in a calm, deliberate voice as she gripped the phone in her hand. “You were working, remember?” This was the hardest breakup speech she’d ever delivered, but it wasn’t her choice. It was time for Jordan Jakes to go to work.

He struggled to speak. “Jordan, I — ”

“Ben,” she interrupted him, “let’s not make this any more difficult than it has to be.” She knew he was trying to tell her that he loved her, but he was paralyzed by fear of rejection. It was better this way. If he actually said the words, she knew she’d drop to her knees and sob.

“I’m sorry.” His voice was soft, emotional. “I overreacted … ”

“A relationship is built on trust.” Her stomach clenched. “I can’t be with someone who doesn’t trust me.” As she said the words, she felt the sting of irony in her lie.

Why couldn’t her target have been the typical lab coat scientist? Why’d he have to be Isle of Mann’s perfect blend of Scotch and Nordic served with a twist of dark brown curls? And why’d he have to look at her that way with those melancholy eyes of his?

“That guy you saw going crazy, that wasn’t me,” he tried even harder.

“I can’t do this anymore.” Her heart was breaking and there was nothing in the world she could do about it.

That first night at the bar when he’d sauntered over to her like he didn’t have a care in the world and asked, “What will you have?” the only answer that came to her mind was you. I want you … forever. But that was a dream, a dream that lasted exactly one year, and now the dream was ending; she had accomplished exactly what she’d been sent to do. There was never going to be a forever, no matter how much she wanted it.
She was leaving him and it was time to make this final.

The bell hanging on the front door to the dry cleaners jingled. She’d worked as a clerk in this lousy job for the past year, too. But it was the perfect cover for her: no stress, no brainer, no suspicions.

“Can’t we talk about it?” he said. “Over dinner?A bowl of beef barley?”

“No.” All Ben needed now was closure — to hear her say it was over and beyond repair. Not a dot, dot, dot.

“I don’t want you to go,” he said.

She didn’t want to go either, but when Chou, her Chinese handler, called a week ago and said, “It’s time,” any fantasy of her sticking around vanished. It had taken the American Central Intelligence Agency and Jordan three long years to get into bed with the Chinese National Security Bureau, and now that the Chinese trusted her, a boyfriend who had been solicited as no more than a pawn in an international game of espionage and cold war could not stand in the way of accomplishing the rest of this mission.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and all major eBook retailers.

Author Bio:
Daco was born at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland and raised in Wernher von Braun’s Rocket City of Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a B.A. and M.A.S. from The University of Alabama in Huntsville and a J.D. from Samford’s Cumberland School of Law. When not practicing law or encouraging her children to become scientists, she spends her time writing novels.

On the Bookshelf:
Currently reading: The Tailor of Panama by John le Carre
A few waiting on the shelf: The Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber; Lost and Found by Amy Shojai, Sweet Little Lies by J.T. Ellison

How to find her on the web:
Twitter:  @AuthorDaco
Goodreads: Daco
Facebook: Daco author
Contact email: 

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST May 20th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. 


  1. Nice excerpt

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  2. Writing a story is real like baking or cooking anything. All the right ingredients have to be there in the story: plot, conflict, theme, characters, and setting. If one is missing, the story wouldn't work. It is like baking an apple pie without the key ingredient: apple or a pie without sugar. (Yes, I have bake a pie without the sugar. I couldn't remember if I added the sugar or not when I was interrupted. It didn't taste right.)


    1. When I was a kid, I accidentally used salt instead of sugar on my cereal...that was back in the day when sugar cereals were unheard of *j* Needless to say, breakfast was a flop that day. Thank you for the comment! And glad to see you back again. I remember you from last time :)

  3. The Libra Affair is a really good read!

  4. Congrats to Daco on the new release! Thanks for sharing :)


  5. THE LIBRA AFFAIR sounds very exciting!!


    1. I hope you'll enjoy it Mary. And I'd love to hear your thoughts!!

  6. The Libra Affair sounds like a good book. I like that the main character is female. Can't wait to read it.

    joanneboyko at yahoo dot ca

  7. Hi Jo-Anne!

    It's about time for a great leading female spy, isn't it! In books, we typically see the male hero having the leading role, the strong role. On the silver screen, we're always see the Jason Bournes/Matt Damons of the world or the Tom Cruises, (which are great by the way) but how many women do we see? Angelina Jolie in Salt, (who is my favorite!) but who else? Okay, so move over Bond...

    I hope you enjoy The Libra Affair!! And I hope it goes Hollywood!

    Thanks for your comment! I'd love to hear what you think.

  8. It is important when the setting is a place I am not familiar with for the author to give me the background to understand the suspense in the story.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

    1. Hi Maureen!

      I hope I accomplish this well for you in The Libra Affair! You'll have to let me know :)

      Thanks for your support!

  9. Personally, I'm a frozen yogurt person myself... :P

    I was just trying to think of the last time I saw (or read about) a spy leading lady, and all I can come up with is Angelina Jolie in SALT, which was originally written for Tom Cruise! Y'know, when Daniel Craig's run at Bond is over (which will be soon at the rate they're making the current films), they should cast a woman next :)

    THE LIBRA AFFAIR sounds like a legend read right up my alley-- adding it to my TBR queue for when I emerge from the deep, dark hole of thesis-writing!


    1. Hi Cris!!

      You are totally speaking to my heart! I really want to go Hollywood next and am about to start whistling my horn at them. Wish me luck! I totally loved Angie in Salt, and I totally had her in mind when I wrote this book. Too funny, that Tom wrote the screenplay :) I plan on trying to get next to him, somehow someway, so that he can consider the project. Gotta find that magic door!

      Good luck on the thesis, sounds like you may be into physics talking dark holes and all.

      Thank you for your support! and let me know what you think.

  10. I added this one to my want list already... love the sound of this book!

    1. Hi Colleen!

      Thank you so much!!! I can't wait to hear back from you after you read the book. I hope you'll post on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, or wherever you download and tell me what you liked about it.

      I'm excited! But I need help spreading the word. I never knew how much work came after writing the book, but it's all worth it, especially when I get to connect with readers. That's the best part, hearing their reactions.

      Thanks for your support!!

  11. Sounds like a great book. thanks for sharing tje excerpt with us. a good cook knows a little taste will bring em back for more.

    We were stationed in Huntsville when my hubby was in the Army. I Have many fond memories from our time there.

  12. Hi Trish!!

    I hope you'll love the book and come back for seconds. I've written the sequel, but it's still in the oven. I hope you spread the word around to all those Army wives and soldiers, too. I hear the guys like a good story when they're shipped out.

    Huntsville is booming! Madison is like unbelievable big now. Traffic congestion!

    Let me hear back from you after you digest the story ;)

    Thanks for your support!


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