Mystery Mondays: DS Kane on Writing Inspiration

Dave 6247.jpgThis week in Mystery Mondays we have DS Kane covert operator turned thriller author. His latest book is MindField, Book 8 of the Spies Lie series.

When a federal government operative asks, “What The Worst That Could Happen?” don’t you want to know?

What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

by DS Kane.

It’s the question all fiction authors need to ask as they write a draft of their manuscript. Every plot twist, character arc, or scene setting should embody some essence of the worst that can happen. Then it’s up to the author to make it even worse.

But, improving your manuscript isn’t all you can get out of asking yourself this question. It also applies to all your life decisions. It’s one thing to take a risk, accepting a worse outcome as a possibility when you seek a bigger return. Surely you’ve encountered situations where you studied a multitude of outcomes for a decision you were about to make and thought, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

So, let’s assume you were able to craft a page-turning manuscript and recruit the team you thought you needed to get it out into the world (possibly a literary agent, or a team that included a cover designer, a copy editor, a formatter and a marketing person). What’s the worst that could happen? Your nightmares might include that your literary agent can’t sell what you write. Or your cover designer produces a work that fails to attract potential readers. Or your copy editor misses on several key errors that confuse readers. Or that your formatter can’t get the book into a format acceptable for CreateSpace, Kindle, Nook and Smashwords. Or that your marketing person can’t find a way to drive a critical mass of sales to recover your costs.

If you’re a writer, the list of things to worry about keeps getting longer as you encounter success. There are several life lessons I’ve had hit me in the head as I’ve authored my series, and here are my suggestions:

  • Use tools like Fictionary, Hemingway and Grammarly to optimize your draft before you send it to your critique group, test readers, literary agent, or editor.
  • Sit your draft in a computer folder for a few days after you finish it, and do something else. Then, with fresh ideas, pick it up and read it like a reader a few days later.
  • Form a team that can do the things you need done to publish the book. My literary agent (who asked that I not include her name) is legendary. My critique group and test readers know what to look for in my draft and call me on my failings every time. My cover designer, Jeroen Ten Berge has successfully branded my books. My copy editor, Karl Yambert, has saved my posterior worth correction to some things I mistakenly thought were true. My formatter, Barb Elliott of has turned my manuscripts into works of beauty. And, most importantly, my marketing person, Rebecca Berus of, has netted me Amazon Bestseller status with every book I’ve produced.
  • When your cover designer sends you a bright, shiny new cover, make sure that at thumbnail size you can see your title and author name clearly. If you can’t, send it back. Does the cover graphic make sense in lieu of the novel’s name and theme? If not, well…
  • Review the plans you get from your marketer. Make sure they fit the budget you have established, and if not, either request changes or find more money. And be sure to track your sales, to ensure this novel isn’t the start of a long march into financial oblivion.

I’ve learned to manage a team, looking for a specific set of goals. My team members are all much smarter than me. I’m the one-trick pony that can write a bestselling techno-thriller, but I’m not good at the tasks my team easily does well. Don’t try to do it all. You haven’t got the time, and time is your most costly resource.

Screen Shot 2017-12-10 at 8.43.48 AM

I get my ideas from the news. I’ll see a story and think, “This looks like the kind of story that covers a darker one. How bad could that darker one be? Would it make the basis for a good story? What theme would it leave with my readers? Which characters would I cast and what would they have to do that they’ve never done before? Who would have to help them to learn their new skills? Where should I set this story that would deepen the mystery?

Last week, MindField, Book 8 of the Spies Lie series was released to the public on Amazon. While it may take some time for me to see how well it does, I’m already midway into the next book in the series, working title brAInbender. And, yes, as I plan and write this book, I’m asking on every page, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Who Is DS Kane?

Dave 6439.jpgFor a decade, DS Kane served the federal government of the United States as a covert operative without cover. After earning his MBA and earning a faculty position in the Stern Graduate School of Business of NYU, Kane roamed as a management consultant in countries you’d want to miss on your next vacation, “helping” banks that needed a way to cover their financial tracks for money laundering and weapons delivery. His real job was to discover and report these activities to his government handler.

When his cover was blown, he disappeared from Washington and Manhattan and reinvented himself in Northern California, working with venture capitalists and startup companies.

Now he writes fictionalized accounts of his career episodes, as the Amazon bestselling author of the Spies Lie series.



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