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December 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 © December 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:

Great gift, Another gift, Bain Boners, Damn Rabbits, Bain Muses, Things History Books Don't Mention, Amazing Piloting, Progress Report, Fine Print, Our Legal System, What I Believed When I Was Young, Nice Review, Books Report, Incongruity, Another Incongruity, Kissable, Back Problems, Fishing, Hamburger Healthy, Excerpt From "Strange Valley"

Special Notice
Until the end of the year, copies of Bark! bought at the following link will be discounted 20% if you use the special code DACHS:
http://www.ll-publications.com/

Great Gift!

Looking for a Christmas gift? Give your friends the five-star rated book, Life On Santa Claus Lane! Available at Amazon in print and Kindle.

Another Gift

Savage Survival in limited edition hardcover is on sale at Twilight times. The following url will take you directly to it.
http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/print_books_sale1108.html#SavageSurvival

Bain Boners

I hate to admit it but my latest boner occurred in my newsletter. Last month I forgot to include a Progress Report, an update on how my writing is going and what I'm doing at present. Sorry. I'll catch everyone up later in this newsletter.

Another boner occurred at mealtime. Betty made spaghetti and meat sauce for supper the other day. We usually fix our plates in the kitchen and bring them to the table where our books, napkins and silverware await. I was bringing my plate of spaghetti in and right as I neared the table it jumped out of my hand. I didn't trip, fumble or look away from what I was doing. That plate of spaghetti just decided it would like to live on the table cloth, the chair cushion, the table feet and the floor and you wouldn't believe what a mess a plate of spaghetti and meat sauce make!

Betty promptly said "Well, if you didn't like it there wasn't any need to throw it at the table. You could have quietly taken it back to the kitchen." I told her I only did that once a marriage so she was safe from now on.

And as if it were catching, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving I was taking a big bowl of dry cat foot to the porch where Velcro the cat lives. On the way, in the living room, the bowl jumped out of my hand and I batted it into the air as I tried to catch it. I do believe I have found cat food in every room of the house since then. One more accident like that and Betty will probably send me to the doctor. One way or another.

Damn Rabbits

Betty has been watching a group of rabbits in the back yard (which is pretty big) and enjoying it so much that I decided to buy her a really nice pair of binoculars for Christmas. Then one day I saw how happy she looked while telling me about her rabbits that I (old softy that I am) couldn't stand it and gave her the binoculars for an early Christmas present. Naturally the damn rabbits disappeared and haven't been seen since!

Bain Muses

Storerooms always fill to capacity and beyond.

Politicians attack problems individually and not in the context of the whole society.

Why is a person half white considered black and a person who is half black also considered black? Huh? Answer me that!

People use religion to do as they wish. Great evil and great good are done in the name of religion. The same is true without religion entering into it.

Why does my stupid dog go almost crazy when he sees me taking the vacuum cleaner out to empty it? Because he loves the thick dust bunnies I empty out even when they make him cough. But why? None of our other dogs showed that kind of inclination.

Things History Books Don't Mention!

What did pioneers use for toilet paper? For that matter what did our ancestors in the days before corn was discovered and cultivated use? They didn't even have corncobs!

What did women use for their periods during most of history?

What did settlers on the Great Plains use for firewood after all the buffalo chips were gone?

How did the medieval English stand each other or themselves when they never bathed?

What did old people with no families in the olden days do? Just die?

Amazing piloting!

If you haven't seen this, please watch it. Unbelievable!!!!!!! (just hit the x box in the upper right corner to avoid the overlying commercial).
http://www.chilloutzone.de/files/08102703.html

Progress Report

Okay, since I missed last month, let's see what I've been doing.

Human by Choice and An Unintended Consequence are both still with Baen. I am becoming a mite impatient.

I just finished the edits on Galactic Frontiers, a science fiction in my usual vein but it gets out into the Galaxy. It is available as an e-book at Sony http://ebookstore.sony.com and Double Dragon http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/index.php now and should be up at www.fictionwise.com and in print and Kindle at Amazon by the 10th of December.

I also just finished writing another novel, Starship Down. This is also a galaxy spanning novel. I'm not sure when it will be out but I hope before long. It depends on which publisher gets it, of course. I'm going to wait another week or two on Baen before sending it anywhere. They are presently considering a couple of books written with Travis S. Taylor

Two new short stories have gone to LL publications. They will be up on Fictionwise as soon as this publisher reaches the magic number of 25 titles in print. This should be soon.

If the schedule holds (which it doesn't always). I may try to help it along with another short story or two.

Which brings up an interesting proposal from my brother Gary, who was reading Eric Flint's postscript to 1933 about collaborations. He suggested that I ask fans to collaborate on some short stories by giving them the theme and letting them take it from there then editing and polishing the final version. Anyone interested?

Fine Print

I have a job for our congress since they can't do anything else but lie and spend money. How about them passing a law against fine print. You know the type I mean. Where it is so fine no one can read it. Where no one can read it. And since none of us read it, what good is it? We know, don't we? So manufacturers can cover their asses and so advertisers can fool you into buying something or so you won't read the warranty or insurance policy. Now if a law stipulated that all manufacturing or advertising or any legal paper had to be in at least 12 point type (as viewed from whatever medium you're reading them on) then I'll bet there would be a whole lot less obfuscation, and what words they did print would be meaningful and we'd read them. How about it? Anyone else with me? Are you as tired as I am of buying medicine, for instance, and getting two pages of print so fine you'd need a compound microscope to read it? Then agitate for this law-Ban fine Print!

Our Legal System

Our legal system had gotten so complicated that it takes years and years, sometimes decades to settle issues. When that happens lawyers make a great deal of money and help perpetuate more laws. I'm sure other people have said the same thing, especially the owners of Enron stock.

What I believed when I was young

When I was a young man I believed congress and the president always had our best interests in mind. I believed big businesses were honest. I believed banks were one of our most stable institutions. I believed lawyers only sued bad people. I believed doctors always had our best interests in mind. Now go back and re-read the segment above, Our Legal System.

Nice Review

Bark! the novel of a little weenie dog that saves earth from an alien invasion just got a nice review. It follows:

Review by Sarah B. of www.Bittenbybooks.com
Categories: Aliens, Book Reviews, Kindle, e-books

Bark!

This is a delightful little novella, definitely for adults, about a dachshund who alerts the world to an alien invasion. What happens during and as a result of that invasion is completely up to the humans around him.

Tonto is a one testicled, cross-eyed, ADHD, autistic red dachshund. He also doesn't see very well, and likes to spend his days pushing pine needles into neat piles (using a stick) on the driveway of his home.

To say that Tonto has issues would be an understatement. But, despite those issues, he does have one very special quality. When the aliens invade earth, only Tonto can tell who the aliens are.

Why can only Tonto tell? Because the aliens have sent out "testers" which duplicate other life forms - up to and including humans.

The duplicates are pretty much impossible to tell from the real thing (except that one of their three sexes has jewels on their bellies), and when the testers get loose in Washington, D.C. - we end up with duplicates all the way to the White House. Now there's a nightmare none of us want to have really happen.

Tonto's Master and Mistress have a friend who is a super-genius (and a more than a bit of a drunk) whom they call in when they realize that something funny is happening on their farm. Gordo confirms that yes, indeed, they've got aliens!

How Tonto, his owners, and Gordo and friends solve the problem of the alien invasion, get rid of one of all the duplicated politicians, and change their world for the better is one deliciously entertaining journey.

PS: With the print book you also get Tonto's Autobiography!
http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=2408

Book Report

Mitch Rapp is a Mean Motorscooter and a Bad Gogetter! He's the hero of some of Vince Flynn's novels. The latest I read was Protect and Defend. I don't really have to say much except it is a really good thriller and I liked it a lot!

I've finished up the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. Critics and reviewers constantly refer to these books as "Space Opera". Well, true, they could be classed as that but Weber goes much deeper into politics, religion, society, and much, much deeper into his characters to blithely pass this wonderful series off as Space Opera. Frankly, I believe it is good enough to be classed as great literature. So take that, critics!

Eric Flint created a marvelous series with the Ring of Fire books. They are meticulously researched so the scenes involving a West Virginia town flung back to the 17th century in the midst of the Thirty Years War are accurate. They are also finely drawn. The books 1632, 1633, 1634, 1634, 1635 and 1635 and related short stories in other volumes are a great adventure in reading. I'm on my second reading of the books and enjoying them even more than the first time. In fact, our whole family is involved on both Betty's side and mine. My only complaint is that some of Flint's coauthors aren't quite as good as him.

The Survivors (also published as Space Prison) by Tom Godwin is an oldie but goodie. First published in the late fifties it is every bit as good a read today. I read it way back when and found some copies of it on Amazon where it had been reissued. It is a study in survival over generations on a hostile planet and Godwin does a great job of it. The Survivors is a fine little novel.

And of course I've rad a good many other books the past month but I only report the ones I really, really like.

Incongruity

Mind War by me, Darrell Bain, won the Eppie Award for best Action/Adventure novel against some very tough competition. It is also rated pretty dern high by readers at www.fictionwise.com . Which brings up the puzzle. So far it has had three reviews at Amazon.com. None of them were very good reviews. Now I realize I'm not the world's greatest writer and I try not to take reviews on Amazon all that seriously but I feel like something is wrong here. If any of you have read this book could I have some feedback, please?

(Mindwar is available in print at Amazon and as an e- book at Fictionwise, Sony, and is available on the Kindle.

Another Incongruity

I got a letter from a reader (I'm not sure I can call her a fan) who read Bark! the story of the Weenie Dog who saves the world from an alien invasion. She said it was a good story but it was spoiled by the cursing in it. She didn't say a word about all the politicians the doggie managed to get executed! I guess she doesn't like politicians, either.

(Bark! is available in print and e-book, including Kindle. The print version gets you both Bark and the long autobiography of the ADHD afflicted Tonto in one volume. As e-books, they are sold separately).

Kissable

I told Betty the other morning that she sure was kissable. No lie. We've been married almost 32 years and I still like to kiss her three or four times a day. Lucky me.

Back Problems

I was thinking of back surgery but when I was told the recovery time would be four or five months I backed out. I'll live with it a while longer before going through that!

Fishing

If you're seriously doing something while fishing, you're missing the whole point. That little pearl of wisdom is from John Varley. I can thoroughly agree with him. While Betty and I were building our Christmas tree farm, fishing with a cane pole and a six pack of beer was my way of getting away from worries. Once a month I'd take a couple of poles, some worms and minnows, a six pack of beer and mosey over to our pond we'd had built and spend a few hours fishing from the bank. I really didn't give a damn whether I caught anything or not. It was just a way to make my mind turn loose for a while.

Hamburger healthy

I keep hearing how unhealthy hamburgers and especially cheeseburgers are for you. But Why? They have all the major food groups recommended: meat, grain, vegetables, and dairy product. Well, they don't have fruit but heck, have a strawberry milkshake like Betty makes with fresh strawberries and there's your fruit with even more dairy product. All the food groups in one meal, so it's a healthy meal so long as you don't get a double or add bacon, etc. Shucks, my mother told me this over 50 years ago. Those dieticians don't know what the heck they're talking about and I don't listen to them because of this one example.

Thanks for reading.

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
December 2008

 

Excerpt From Strange Valley

Harry Beales should have had a place in the history books, or at least a footnote for being the first to uncover the gentle mantle of peace and prosperity hovering over Masterville Valley, but he was, after all, only a GS-9 clerk and his role in the subsequent investigation was soon forgotten by those higher in the hierarchy of government service. Perhaps Harry would have wanted it that way. Once he turned his findings over to others, he went back to working his normal hours and channel surfing from his easy chair and mowing the lawn on Saturday mornings. Eventually, he put the whole episode out of his mind and didn't think of it again until it became national news. Others did no such thing.

CHAPTER TWO

"I don't get it," Daniel Stenning said as he finished reading the condensed version of the Masterville data. He tapped an impatient finger on top of the stack of papers. He looked around the table to see if anyone else agreed with him. Besides himself, there were three other persons in the NSA briefing room located in the bowels of the headquarters building in Washington. Opposite him, the FBI liaison shrugged, but said nothing. To his right was a woman, an NSA field agent like himself, but one whom he had never met. She ignored him and continued perusing the report.

"What is it you don't get, Daniel?" his boss, Mandel Crafton, asked. Crafton had hard, flinty eyes and used them like a weapon.

"First of all, I don't see what this business has to do with national security. And second, why is it stamped secret?" He tapped the papers again. "Most of the data here is available to anyone who cares to sift through the census statistics or look it up on the web."

Crafton's eyes focused on Daniel like an invisible laser, hunting for a hint of insubordination. Crafton hadn't wanted Stenning on this case; the mild-mannered agent was far too successful at his work for Crafton to think of him as anything other than a potential competitor. Better to use someone like Shirley there, whose loyalty to him was unquestionable. She had already pinned her career to his rising star. However, he hadn't had a say in Stenning's presence. His own superior had specifically ordered him to assign Stenning to the case. Given Stenning's previous history of successful operations, it made Crafton believe his boss already thought there were wider implications to the assignment than those he had voiced, and wanted one of the best field agents on it right from the start.

"It's not up to field agents to question an operation, Daniel. And as far as the secrecy goes, no one else other than that little stat analyst and his superior have made all these connections. They have been ordered to remain silent until we determine what's going on there."

"But why? I don't see anything about Masterville that's really earthshaking. So what if the population is a little different? From what I've heard, some of those communities up in the Ozarks and Appalachians have been inbred for generations. Maybe that's the reason. Besides, they seem to be getting along fine as they are and not hurting anyone. Why go in and start them wondering about it?"

"Maybe too fine," Shirley Rostervik said from beside him. She turned to him and smiled to take the sting out of the contradiction before addressing Crafton directly. Daniel sensed a layer of incipient sexuality beneath the smile, but it did little for him, even as attractively blond and slim as the other field agent was. Sometimes, he wondered about himself.

Crafton allowed himself to return Shirley's smile as she continued. "There's something strange about that place. Just look at the gradient map." She pulled a sheet of paper from the bottom of her stack and pushed it to the center of the table. It contained a map of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri, the heart of the Ozark mountain range. "See here, the anomalies begin tapering off the further away from Masterville you go. After thirty or forty miles, you can't tell any difference from the normal population. It's almost as if that city and valley are the center of an epidemic."

"If it's an epidemic, it's been going on for a hell of a long time," Daniel said. "Previous censuses show the same pattern once you begin looking for it."

"That's the point," Crafton interjected. "Whatever those people are up to, it's part of a long range plan. Perhaps a conspiracy."

"I really can't see where they're up to anything, much less having a plan," Daniel said, dropping his copy of the report onto the table in front of him. He reached for the coffee pot and poured himself a refill. Crafton might be a bastard, but his coffee was always excellent.

"That's enough, Dan. Our superiors think there's some phenomenon there worth looking into and that's all we need to know. You and Shirley have been assigned to the case. You're to go in there posing as tourists and find out what's going on."

"It seems to me we already know what's going on."

"Enough, I said."

Daniel shrugged. He had said what he thought and was willing to let it go at that. If the powers that be wanted him to go undercover into a happy, prosperous little valley and unobtrusively question its inhabitants, then he would do so, and do a thorough job while he was there. He looked across the table at the FBI liaison agent. "Is the FBI going in, too?"

Crafton answered, looking smug. "No, it was just the first agency notified. When the Attorney General refused them a writ, the problem was passed along to us."

No wonder the Federal agent looked so glum. All he was there for was as a hanger-on, just in case something illegal turned up that fell under his agency's jurisdiction. That government clerk, Harry something or other, must have gone to the FBI first, or his superior had. But then the problem had been passed to the National Security Agency, and given the paranoia of President Smith, it was no wonder an investigation had been ordered. Well, whatever else, the operation would get him away from the stifling weather of Washington and up into the mountains where it was cool. And perhaps there was a phenomenon in that valley not as benign as he imagined, though he couldn't begin to think of what it might be.

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