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April 2008

This newsletter may be copied and sent to both friends and enemies with the stipulation that the source www.darrellbain.com is noted and the copyright notice is noted and included as follows:
Bainstorming: Darrell's Monthly Newsletter.
Copyright © April 2008, By Darrell Bain
http://www.darrellbain.com

Responses to subjects brought up by this newsletter are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.

  Subjects this month:

They're Out To Get Betty, United Kingdom, Humor in Science Fiction, Book Reviews, Progress Report, Bain Blunders, Baked Fried Pies, Award, Politics, Stale Coffee, Tonto The Idiot-Savant, Improbabilities, Easy Dinner Recipe, Bain Muses, Excerpt From The Melanin Apocalypse

 

They're Out To Get Betty
Someone is, or if not it sure seems like it. First it was the injury to her leg from trying to stomp that spider, then injuring the other leg from being run down by Velcro the cat who was playing "chase the kitty" with Tonto. After that, she had to have a growth taken off from right between her eyes that makes reading difficult until it heals, but that doesn't matter because she doesn't feel much like reading anyway since the day after she had that surgery done she developed a toothache. A trip to the dentist revealed a molar that had its root growing under some bone and the dentist wouldn't touch it. She has to have oral surgery and as soon as that's done, she has to have a root canal and crown on the adjoining tooth, where the problem was revealed by the X-Rays on the infected tooth that has her jaw all swollen up. She's taking antibiotics for that, which has caused a yeast infestation in a sensitive spot. None of these injuries/illnesses are cured yet so she's suffering from all of them at once. No wonder she doesn't feel like making me any cookies. And no wonder I don't care. When someone you love hurts, you hurt, too.

PS: And just to add insult to injury, we got the report back on the growth that was removed. It turned out to be a skin cancer so now she has to go back and have some more of the area excised just to be sure they got it all.

United Kingdom
In a previous newsletter I mentioned that my newest publisher, the one that is bringing our Bark! in print, is in "England". Whoops! England is not equivalent to the whole island. The proper term is "United Kingdom", which is England, Scotland and Wales, plus Northern Ireland if you want to include it. I apologize and Jim, the co-owner, really only teased me about it a little.

Humor in Science Fiction
Shortly after reading one of Gordon Dickson's novels, Time Storm (see Book Reviews), I received a letter which I've excerpted here:

****************

.I don't usually bother authors, especially those like you that I really enjoy.  I prefer that they use their time writing more books. However, I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your sense of humor as reflected in your writings, from politics to sex and everything in between (no matter how much they may seem the same). Please keep writing & I'll keep buying & reading.  Especially like (it) that you are publishing in electronic format.

Another happy reader.

Don

****************

I always like hearing from fans and I was especially pleased with this letter because I enjoy reading humor in science fiction myself. It's nice to know at least some of my readers appreciate my attempts to insert a little of it into my own work, even when it's a serious novel. I can't or don't always work it in but since discovering I have some small talent for writing humor I try to use it. And I have thoroughly enjoyed writing the Williard Brothers series. Those happy go lucky scoundrels aren't meant to be taken seriously, which perhaps explains why they have the most devoted fans of any of my books.

I sort of got off the subject of Gordon Dickson. After reading Time Storm, and receiving the letter, I was reminded of a couple of his other books, Space Paw and Spacial Delivery, which are really funny and both on my "keeper" shelf. Naturally, I pulled them down and read them both. As I did I reflected, wondering why so many novels are sort of dry reading. I like to see a funny remark or a humorous scene in books, even the really serious ones. It makes me stop and chuckle and not take life quite so seriously, as I tend to do on occasion. Laughter and humor are great tension relievers and will fit in just about any kind of book, even science fiction.

 

Book Reviews
Gordon Dickson was a science fiction Grand Master, if I remember right. He wrote a number of really nifty novels, but I believe Time Storm is his best. It covers a period stretching into the future and follows a unique man, the only person in the universe who might be able to fight the sudden and devastating time storms that have swept earth. But before he can become really effective he first has to learn how to love, a feat that for him might be harder than fighting the time storms. I also read Space Paw and Spacial Delivery again, two of his humorous science fiction novels. These take place on a planet where the technology is about the level of Bronze Age earth and the inhabitants resemble nine foot gorillas. In both books the poor earthman hero is finagled into a hand to hand battle with one of those goliaths. You'll find yourself chuckling all the way through both of books.

Betty and I re-read the Complete Collection of Calvin and Hobbes, the comic strip that we practically bawled over when we heard it was no longer going to be a part of our daily lives. We both believe it is absolutely the best comic strip ever produced. Furthermore, its author refused to allow it to be commercialized into calendars, notepads, toys and so on, even though he turned down the veritable fortune he would have made. He also closed down the strip when he thought it had finished its life rather than going into repeats of old matter drawn in a different way. The man had integrity galore and talent we can only admire. Anyone who hasn't been introduced to Calvin and Hobbles has missed something unique in their life.

David Weber and Steve White wrote a series of four books together dealing with military space wars against other species with the final one describing a rebellion of fringe worlds against Earth and the core worlds. The titles are Crusade, In Death Ground, The Shiva Option and Insurrection. This was my second reading of the four. They are all good. My only complaint is the references to earlier wars, one against a species now an ally and another against a species that wouldn't make peace and had to be totally eliminated. There are no books dealing with those events, but it's a minor matter. The four form a complete series but may be read alone with no problem.

I'm reading the Prince Roger series by David Weber and John Ringo. They are March Upcountry, March To The Sea, March To The Stars and We Few. The first one, March Upcountry is very good, a sort of coming of age of a spoiled brat who is third in line for the emperor's throne and has been stranded on a hostile planet along with the company of marines charged with his protection. Prince Roger has to grow up fast when he's constantly being attacked by ferocious beasts and savage natives. Weber and Ringo are really a good duo, and can confidently take their place among other greats like Niven and Pournelle, Pohl and Kornbluth and the rapidly emerging great collaborations of Travis S. Taylor and John Ringo. Having collaborated on several books myself, I'm beginning to believe it is a method that improves the individual's own writing.

John Varley is one heckuva science fiction author. I never get tired of reading his books. I just finished re-reading the first of his Thunder trilogy, Red Thunder. It's about a genius Cajun, Jubal, who was mistreated as a child and isn't very worldly, to say the least. Varley's characterizations of the Cajuns are terrific, especially Jubal, who invented a new power source. With it, a reforming alcoholic ex-NASA astronaut and several kids just out of high school set out to beat the Chinese to Mars and while they're at it to rescue an American spaceship also on the way to Mars which Jubal predicts will blow up because of a flaw in the design. A great book by a great writer. Red Lightning is the second in the series and the third, Rolling Thunder, was just published.

I also re-read Varley's Millennium, about the end of the world. Well, sort of. It has a really unexpected and unpredictable ending, just as you'd expect from him. This was one of his earlier novels but a brilliant one just the same. It involves a team investigating the collision of a couple of passenger jets where some oddities have occurred but the chief of the team isn't believed when he discovers them.

Progress Report
I finished part of Quanty and Travis "Doc Travis" Taylor agreed to collaborate with me to make it into what we think will be a really great book. More updates later.

Mogollon Rim: Seeds of Destruction, my latest book, is available in e-book format at Fictionwise.com. Look for the print version later this year.

At long last, The Melanin Apocalypse is now available in print. I sincerely hope nothing like the events depicted in the book ever happen but it is becoming increasingly more and more possible.

Bark! didn't quite make it out in print in March as anticipated. We're doing the final cover design as I'm writing this now, early in March, so hopefully it will be out in April. And wait until you see the cover! It is fantastic and so clearly depicts the theme of the book that I can almost put myself there!

Human by Choice     

I'm working on the final edits to Human by Choice and also periodically writing more on the sequel. That one, untitled as yet, is nearing 40,000 words.

[Update 04-01-08. Human by Choice will be up April 14th at both Fictionwise.com and eReader.com. Currently available from the publisher as a pdf arc.]

 

Bain Blunders
This one belongs to Betty. When oranges are on sale, we like to buy a couple of bags of them and squeeze our own fresh orange juice. It's so much better than what you can buy in cartons. One day when they were on sale Betty bought a couple of bags of them. While we were putting up the groceries, the oranges transmogrified into grapefruits. Wonder how that happened? It was a total loss, too, since neither of us can eat grapefruit because it interferes with some of our medicine.

And here's one from my brother Gary, told in his own words:

get up at 8 this morning, drinking me first cup 'o joe and relaxing, perfectly content with life, and Barb comes in and says, oh by the way, Don will be here to spray weedkiller in pastures this morning.
Not so bad 'cause somebody else doing the work, on first thought that is. Then Barb says, by the way we'll need to pen the horses up and put out a round bale for them. Oh, that's not so bad I says to me, shud be a f'n snap!! So we go out to the round pen and start figuring this stuff out. So we add 4 panels to the pen, only 10' long so still not too bad, only weigh 30 pounds or so. But ya know how women be, the panels needed to be adjusted, after moving them about a kazillion times. Then of course had to drive a t-post and with my unerring accuracy put it right thru the PVC drain pipe that comes off the barn, the only place in the entire 40 acres where that cuda happened. So I got to dig that out and make a covering for it and bury it again and then reinstall t-post, which of course just about took the tractor and 3 horses to get it out 'cause when I put 'em in I want 'em to stay there-right, well, of course that ain't right!! The dogs were trying to mix with the horses, a real circus out there. So had to come in and overdose on tramadol, robaxin, tylenol 3, and a few other things laying around so cud cope with these challenges and opportunities as they are-lol. Barb still out there so guess will go give her some moral support and, oh yeah, put out the round bale, if and when, we get the fences properly installed to meet her exacting equestrian standards. Later-G

Then went out to pump house to make sure water was connected to the hose so mister man could mix his chemicals to spray the fields. Noticed we were outa salt for water softener so headed to Walmart to get salt. Of course we were there yesterday so real happy had opportunity to go to Walmart again today and load and unload a dozen 50 pound sacks of salt.

Some days I wonder why either one of us ever wanted to move to the country. DB

Baked Fried Pies
Anyone who hasn't eaten a good fried pie has really missed a treat. Unfortunately, they are loaded with calories and Crisco and sugar. Since Betty and I are no longer supposed to eat fried food, she came up with an innovation. Rather than deep frying the pies, she simply baked them. Neither of us expected them to be as good as when fried but surprise! They turned out excellent! Just as good as fried and not nearly so loaded with the bad stuff. The big problem is that they are like potato chips: it's hard to stop eating them once you start!

Award
A science fiction anthology won the Eppie this year for best science fiction e-book of the year. The title is Twisted Tales II: Time On Our Hands. One of my stories was in it, Neanderthal Nemesis. The book will be appearing in paperback very shortly.

Politics
Regardless of your political affiliation, you have to admit this primary year has been fun to follow. And regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, it will make history. Either the oldest president elected or the first woman or the first black. Political junkies must be hugging themselves with joy every time they pause to reflect on it. I won't tell you how I'm going to vote, but I will say a lot may depend on the running mate of either nominee, where usually I'm not too concerned about that aspect of the election.

Stale Coffee
Just in the last month I've had to throw two one pound cans of ground coffee away because it was so stale and tasteless. Does anyone else have this problem? I doubt if it can just be me. Also I don't remember it ever happening until about 7 or 8 years ago but it has become increasingly frequent since then. I wrote to the coffee company. Maybe if enough people wrote about these things to management they'd do something. Or may be not. I got no response so I tried other coffee brands. Same thing. Betty bought me a coffee bean grinder for Christmas. It's not terrible expensive and fresh ground coffee sure tastes better than the stuff I've been getting, especially that old, stale coffee sold as "fresh". Coffee beans cost more but I've decided that's the only way I can guarantee a good cup of coffee in the morning so I've gone to buying the beans exclusively.

Tonto The Idiot-Savant
Now that it has dried up, our idiot-savant doggie Tonto is back out shoveling straw into piles with the sticks he finds or chews into the proper size. Watching him sweep straw with a forked stick is even funnier. I still don't see how he avoids catching one of those sticks in a crack or rough spot on the tarmac or the lawn and jamming it down his throat, but it never happens.

He has another peculiarity I don't think I've written about. Most doggies like to have their bellies rubbed. Tonto does, too, but he much prefers you to do it with a stockinged foot rather than with your hand. Betty and I are getting old enough that we have to worry about losing our balance and smushing him, though, so we always hold onto a piece of furniture before doing it. What an idiot dog.

Improbabilities
Sometimes things happen which are wildly improbable. I'll mention a couple here. One happened when I was a kid, about 8 or nine years old and fishing in an old pond. I didn't know how to tie a fish hook onto the end of the line very good. One day while fishing with a cane pole I got a bite. The fish tugged, of course, and my line came loose from the fish hook and I drew back nothing but a line.

A couple of weeks later I was fishing there again. My cork bobbed around a bit and I pulled it in to see if I needed more bait. As I began raising my pole to bring the line in, I hooked something. It was a fish, I could tell.

I landed it this time and lo and behold, the tip of my hook had gone through the eye of the hook I'd left in that fish's mouth weeks earlier and I caught it that way. Wildly improbable but it happened!

Here's another that may have happened to some of you. This has happened twice in my life. I've picked up the phone, intending to call someone and didn't have a dial tone--because the person I was going to call had just called me and I'd picked up the phone before it rang!

Easy Dinner Recipe

This is another of those easy to make meals I invented while Betty was working outside the home and I was farming and being a househusband. Basically, you take half a small can of tomato sauce, add a tablespoon of flour, garlic salt and a little salt and pepper. Mix those together in a baking pan. Get a half package of smoked sausage, peel off the skins, cut into sections and dump into the pan. Cut up a couple of peeled potatoes into quarters and dump in pan. Cut up a half of a green pepper into strips and dump into pan. Add water until it covers all the stuff. Put in oven and bake at 350 degrees until the potatoes are done. When they're done, so is everything else. Add a dinner roll from a package and slice a tomato and there's your supper. I sneaked this recipe into Betty's book, Articles, Muses and Favorite Diet Breaking Dessert Menus, even though it's not a dessert. The book is available at Fictionwise.com as an e-book and Lulu.com in print.

Bain Muses

In this day and age we are all captives to the techies and specialists. The things we use have become too complicated for an ordinary person to fix.

Men complain about the digital prostate exam. Women have no sympathy for them after their first mammogram or their first visit to a gynecologist.

Everyone complains about government, but no one has ever figured out a way to do without one.

We worry too much about who's going to be elected president. We ought to be worrying about the people we put in congress. They're the critters who have spent not only our money but our kid's and grandkid's money, too. It is ridiculous that we're spending almost a half trillion dollars of our tax money just paying the interest on our national debt!

Thanks for reading.

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
April 2008

 

Excerpt from The Melanin Apocalypse:

Melanin: The pigment which produces skin color.

My brother ran across an article and sent it to me. The two excerpts below are the opening words of a novel I decided to write after reading the article. Its title is The Melanin Apocalypse. It has been out some time as an e-book and is now nearing its print debut, April 15th. It is available at Amazon for pre-order now. I felt as if I was almost impelled to write this novel, dealing as it does with scientific possibilities that are not too far in the future. My most sincere hope is that they are never used in the manner depicted in The Melanin Apocalypse.

DB

The Melanin Apocalypse

Prolog

.Scientists have declared that in ten years they will succeed in creating a radically new type of biological weapon. This weapon would be capable of infecting people according to a genetically predetermined marker such as skin color or eye shape. Infection could have a delayed effect or only begin once a certain type of medicine was taken. A recent closed seminar held by the CIA...

.the most terrifying new possibility is the hypothetical biological weapon that could infect people according to genetic markers. Not only would it allow for genocide; it would be created specifically for that purpose. A recent report by the British Medical Association stated that "the rapid progress in genetics could become the basis for ethnic cleansing on an unheard of scale in the near future.

Excerpts from article in Gateway to Russia, March 2004 by Vasili Sychev

...On his hospital bed in the city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Benjamin Imhonde barely had the energy to raise his arm, but that was enough to see that his skin was becoming lighter. Several weeks ago it had been ebony black. Now it was several shades paler. He wouldn't have minded so much except that as his skin color faded, he became sicker.and sicker. Benjamin made an effort and turned his head toward the bed next to him where his wife lay sleeping, exhausted from expending what little energy she had left in the simple act of using the bedpan. She had cried out weakly from the pain caused by her movements, but now she was silent.

Sleeping? No! She looked more like.He didn't want to think what she looked like. He tried to raise his head but a wave of pain coursing through his body dropped it back to the pillow. A tear leaked from Benjamin's right eye, then another, and one from his left. He felt them trickling down his face and tried to rein in his emotions. Even crying hurt now. I'm going to die, he thought. I've known ever since they moved us to the isolation ward. But no one would tell him what kind of disease he and his wife had! Just before the transfer, he overheard talk that the sickness was sweeping through the city of Port Harcourt. Then an orderly told him yesterday--or was it the day before?--that only blacks were becoming ill, and even more ominous, that no one was recovering. That bit of information had been bought from the orderly, but Benjamin didn't mind; he could afford it. He was even willing to pay for more, but the orderly never returned. Benjamin Imhonde tried one more time to move, to stretch his hand out toward the body of his wife. His arm barely twitched. That was his last conscious movement. An hour later the orderlies came to remove the bodies. They were Catholic nuns. They were white. They showed no symptoms of illness...

".. Tell your people not to talk about it, especially the part about it affecting only blacks. Good God, what would--wait! Is there any possibility it could spread to here? Is it contagious?"

"Mr. Tomlin, that's what we're going to find out. We have no idea yet how it spreads, nor exactly how fast; only that it's doing it, and doing it very rapidly." She didn't finish with the implication. Whether or not Tomlin knew it, Port Harcourt was a metropolitan city, the hub of both air and sea travel into and out of Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa. If it could be spread by human to human contact, as apparently it could in some way, then it was already present in nearly every country in the world. Including the United States of America. Globalization and universal air travel would have seen to that..

..still didn't know why it was so lethal nor how it spread, and hadn't even begun to study the possibility of a vaccine. The update also confirmed his fears. The first cases were now being reported in other countries besides Nigeria, among them South Africa, Ethiopia, India and. England? Then he remembered, England had a fair percentage of blacks in its population now. Manfred took a deep breath and continued reading. Houston, Texas was reporting several possible cases. And New York and Seattle hospitals thought they had some. Mexico City. He scanned on down.

..Manny reached for his phone, intending to punch the number for a direct connection to CDC headquarters in Atlanta and see if any more information was available before requesting an appointment with the president. Instead he paused and stared at the skin of his own dark brown arm. His hand was trembling when he finally managed to look away and make the call..  

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