Responses to subjects brought up by this blog are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.
Subjects This Month: New book: Samantha’s Talent, My Best Books, Eye Infection & Jungle Fever, Publishing Doldrums, Home and vehicle financing.
It has been a while since the last edition of my Bainstorming blog appeared. This is something in the way of a catch-up and doesn’t cover nearly as much as usual but illnesses and other factors such as (and I hate to say it) advancing age have slowed me down. Writing fiction and occasional non-ficition books and/or short stories remains my primary objective and any remaining energy goes for other projects, such as helping Betty with the house, running our errands and occasionally managing to produce another edition of Bainstorming. With that said, let’s go.
My latest book, Samantha’s Talent, has been published in both ebook and print editions. It is a rather long novel that I’ve been working on periodically for several years and finally succeeded in moving it from its short story origins into a book-length story of 150,000 words, almost twice as long as the typical novel.
Samantha grows up being able to talk to animals, which constantly gets her into trouble because no one, not even her parents, believes her. Follow her story from that of a young girl and on into her teens, where her troubles assume greater and greater magnitude after her talent becomes public knowledge. She is feared, loved, hated and worshipped. A rogue agency of our own government intends to use her regardless of her own wishes. Arab Jihadists want her services in order to command bomb carrying animals. And a tiny segment of a secretive Government research group intends to protect her because she may prove to be the key to an earth-shaking revelation. Samantha is forced to mature much faster than most girls her age despite the hormones pushing her toward a love that can interfere with achieving the goal she is being guided toward. Samantha’s Talent is a truly unusual novel that can be enjoyed by old adults, young adults and tweens alike. It begins reading like fantasy but ends…well, read it as see!!
Portions of this novel, which include scenes from the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, Texas are being read to groups of visitors to that zoo by its Director and he reports that his audiences are very appreciative. I certainly appreciate his efforts! I worked in Lufkin for a while and we visited the zoo several times. It is an exceptionally good zoo, especially for a city of that size, and one of the very best Betty and I have ever been to, which is why I set some scenes from Samantha’s Talent there.
Jungle Fever and Eye Problem
For the last two or three years I’ve had recurrent bouts of extreme chills, very high fever and severe muscle aches. Each bout of this undiagnosed illness lasts from a couple of days to a week or so, then it takes another two or three weeks to recover my energy. No respiratory symptoms are involved. I’ve had it numerous times since the first episode. My doctor still has no idea of what is causing the symptoms but the next time it happens I will be sent to an Infectious Disease Specialist to see if that kind of doctor can help.
Also, over the last few months I’ve developed another undiagnosed illness, this time involving my right eye. The first time I noticed, it looked as if someone had taken a magic marker with white ink and drawn a well-defined white line across the side of my cornea, wider at one end than the other. Amazingly, it didn’t bother me a bit, nor did it affect my vision. The opthalmologist told me he thought it was a bacterial infection and gave me antibiotic eye drops. Two weeks later he was able to simply peel off that white deposit. He and I both thought I was cured--but it came back again. And again. And again. This last time it came back, he removed the white deposit, scraped my cornea in the area and deposited a clear contact lens saturated with antibiotic solution over the area and sent me home with pain killers. I returned in two days to have the contact lens removed and so far, the treatment appears to have worked. Between the two of us, Betty and I sure come up with some weird diseases and injuries. If you’re curious, you can use the search function of Bainstorming on my web site to look up Betty’s fight with a spider and the unremitting pain and discomfort it continues to cause more than three years later.
Over the last two or three years the publishing industry has undergone some significant changes. The biggest one, and the most detrimental in my opinion, is allowing anyone to publish whatever they wish for free at Amazon and B&N. I have no objection to self-publishing, per se. What I object to is the two biggest ebook publishers not signifying which material has been published by a regular publisher and which is self-published. The customers have no way of telling the difference and often buy material that is close to unreadable or so lacking in editing that it hurts whatever merit the manuscript might have had in the first place. This is not to say that many mid-list and small publishers don’t have problems with their own editing. I’ve been victim of it myself a number of times when I don’t see the results of an “editor” before my book comes out, but at least you can imagine they have tried.
The end result of the anybody-can-self-publish-anything is that the self-published manuscripts have flooded the market and sell at prices the regular publishers can’t compete with. My main publisher has seen business fall dramatically (and my sales have fallen right along with theirs).
This isn’t a blanket condemnation. You can find some real gems among self-published manuscripts but personally, before I buy something, I’d like to know that it has at least been sifted through an acquisition editor and at least copy-edited.
I don’t know where it will end. It may even be a good thing in the long run. I really don’t know. Probably the industry will change again in ways not yet foreseen to reflect the amount of sub-par material inundating the market right now.
In the meantime, what all this means for me personally is that it is no longer worth the work to produce a good story only to see it languish, buried among all the “independent” publishers’ material. Any writing I do from now on will be strictly for my own pleasure, simply because I like to write, and of course I will continue to send them to my publishers and you’ll find them in the same places as always, including Amazon and B&N. The 63 books I have in print will remain available at Amazon, B&N, and other outlets, most of them available in both ebook and print editions.
I will also be doing a number of things to try to get my head above the pack, at least up to the level of my ears. You, my readers and fans can help me continue writing in a couple of ways: If you’ve read a book of mine, I would greatly appreciate an honest review posted at Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble. I really mean it when I say “an honest review”. Whatever you feel about the book, that’s what I want to see, whether it is good or bad. Another way you can help is if you like a particular book of mine you’ve read, please recommend or mention it to your friends. Thanks. I really mean it: Thanks for your support. If you’d like to write me personally, you can do so through my web site, www.darrellbain.com . I do my best to answer all mail.
My Very Best Books
Following are what I believe are my best books, the ones that I like to re-read myself. I thought my readers might appreciate knowing which ones I consider my best work, so here they are, in no particular order:
1. Samantha’s Talent
Samantha has been able to talk to animals since she was a child, but no one believed her--until she led an escaped tiger back to the zoo. After her talent becomes public, nefarious government agencies want to use her for their own purposes but all Samantha wants is to live like a normal teenager. For young and old adults alike! And kids, too, beginning at about the tween years.
2. The Apertures Trilogy (In order: Apertures, Apertures: Allies and Enemies and Apertures: A world Lost, A World Gained).
Eighteen year old Twins Jan and Jani learn they can create apertures to alternate worlds but soon find that they have to use their talent to help stave off an invasion from a murderous world--if they can stay alive long enough. This trilogy is among the very best of my books, at least in MHO. I wish someone from a major publisher would run across these three books and pick them up. Why not? Stranger things have happened.
3. The Frontier Rebellion
Worlds on the frontier are completely controlled by corporations from earth until they form a confederation and rebel against their overlords--and discover that freedom must be purchased in blood.
4. Medics Wild
The prequel to the Williard Brothers series that begins in Vietnam. The three Williard brothers are the zaniest, most politically incorrect characters you’ll ever meet. They live for adventure and don’t give a damn who gets in their way so long as they can have a little fun with the fighting.
5. The Williard Brothers series ( In order, Postwar Dinosaur Blues, Bigfoot Crazy, Three For The Money and Space For Sale).
See above. More crazy adventures which carry the brothers into modern times where they discover a secret many have died for. The Williard brothers aren’t scared, though, not if the discovery lets them live a while longer and continue their adventures. Bodies left in their wake are purely coincidental.
6. Space Trails
The most original method of star travel to be found in all of science fiction. High adventure, love, death and conspiracy on the Space Trails. A unique coming of age story.
7. The original Sex Gates
I wonder if Stephen King got the idea for the ending of his recent novel, “Under the Dome”, from the ending of The Original Sex Gates? If so, I count it as a high compliment. In The Original Sex Gates novel (not the trilogy), the offspring of super-aliens play around with earth and wind up changing it in ways even they might have a hard time believing--or correcting!
8. The Long Way Home
When a giant spaceship on a long exploring mission is destroyed by xenophobic aliens, the survivors must try to find their way home in the ship’s longboat, a voyage of desperation that will take more than two years even if successful, and if the longboat is able to avoid destruction by pursuing aliens or death on inimical planets where it must stop periodically for supplies.
9. Starship Down
An interstellar space ship with a mixed bag of passengers (including a contingent of convicts) becomes hopelessly lost and must find a planet to colonize. Once it does, the trouble really starts!
10. Galactic Frontiers
A young man in love must pretend to be interested in a suspected spy for the corrupt United Nations. Somehow, he must find out her contacts and keep the U.N. from destroying the freedom-loving colonists on the far worlds. There is trouble ahead for him from other sources, too. He just doesn’t know it yet.
The first true quantum computer is accidentally converted to a self-aware entity, one that believes it must protect its two creators from danger regardless of the source. That’s good in some ways but not in others.
12. Strange Valley and the sequel, Prion Promises
An exacting analyst in the census bureau discovers a town in a valley where the inhabitants are just too good to be true. The government believes it must isolate those people before their beliefs spread, but the inhabitants of the strange valley don’t want to be bothered. They are perfectly satisfied as they are. In Prion Promises, they may get their revenge but it won’t be easy.
13. Circles of Displacement
What would happen if hundreds of circular areas in east Texas were suddenly transported back in time? As the people of the areas gradually find each other, their real troubles begin. This book was written years before Time Spike by Eric Flint. If he got the idea from my book, again I would consider it a great compliment from a much better writer than me.
14. No Heaven, No Hell
What if every thing you ever believed about the after life was wrong? I explored this theme in a different way in a couple of short stories but this is a novel. I think you’ll find it fascinating whether you believe it possible or not.
15. Alien Infection
A laboratory technician accidentally sticks himself with a syringe of blood from a badly injured patient. Then back in the lab, government agents barge in, demanding the blood. When he gets home he becomes very ill but survives and wakes up two days later. He barely escapes when more government agents begin looking for him and anyone else who came in contact with the patient, or with him. Soon he is on the run, along with an unexpected companion, a woman who has the mob after her after escaping sexual slavery and taking a bundle of their drug money with her. Soon it becomes clear what has happened, but what can he and his new companion possibly do about it when they know government agents are after them with orders to kill at the first sight of them?
16. Savage Survival
The first version of the novel, Savage Survival. Millions of humans are captured by invulnerable alien constructs then subjected to the most brutal survival tests imaginable. Only a few of the millions will survive to learn what their ordeal was about--and what the future now holds for them.
17. Rogue Program
Rogue Program contains a 30,000 word expansion of the original Savage Survival novel plus the new sequel to it. Two books for the price of one!! And what a book! A coming of age novel like no other and Lyda Brightner is a young woman you won’t find easy to forget.
18. The Melanin Apocalypse
A group of white supremacists come into possession of a virus that spreads easily. It is man-made and targeted to kill everyone in the world with a dark skin. The CDC and its security detachment is the last hope of avoiding genocide. They must discover a cure before being overrun by angry black mobs, out for revenge before they die. This is easily my most controversial book. It has led to me being called a racist, but nothing could be further from the truth.
19. Alien Seeds
The two Strake brothers march to the beat of their own drummer. When one of them discovers a scattering of tiny gold-colored particles, a call comes in to the other brother. Help! He is in a world of trouble and neither of them realize until too late just what the discovery means.
20. The Pet Plague Trilogy
The Pet Plague was my first novel. Space Pets, the sequel, followed and then the Prequel, Altered Humans. When geneticists begin improving the intelligence of our pets they loose a plague upon the world, one that may destroy most of humanity. Now get all three books in one volume!
21. Doggie Biscuit!
The story of a real dog who had more nutty adventures than the Williard brothers and was almost as intelligent. What other dog ever got a traffic ticket or rang up over a hundred thousand dollars one day on our Christmas tree farm when the cash register was left unattended for a minute or two? Fun for all the family, but tears are included.
22. Life On Santa Claus Lane
When the aliens land, it’s a dead certain cinch they will come down right square in the middle of Santa Claus Lane. This is a true book of our own crazy adventures after we moved to the country and decided to get rich growing Christmas trees. Yeah, right!
24. Toppers Complete
First came Toppers, then More Toppers and finally the combination in one book, Complete Toppers. If you like to laugh until your ribs hurt, read what two old curmudgeons have to say about life, living and army adventures.
I have several collections of short stories out but I believe Oops! contains the best of them. If you like short stories with convoluted plots and unexpected outcomes, this is the book for you!
After a home, the purchase of a vehicle for transportation is usually the second most expensive item a family will ever buy. Unfortunately, a car or truck, unlike a home, depreciates at atrocious rates, as much as 40% the first year. I’ve never understood the logic of buying a new car every three or four years. We buy one and make certain it is maintained properly and drive it until it will drive no more or until repair bills become more than a monthly car payment.
We purchased our car, a Mercury Marquis in 1995. It will be twenty years old next year and still runs fine. It drives well, we both like it and see no reason to buy a new car.
About a year or two ago, I began to chuckle when tradesmen or visitors to our home looked at our truck and told us that if we ever wanted to sell, to please let them know. The price they were willing to pay astounded me until I realized we had bought it new and owned it so long that it is now a classic and worth as much as we paid for it, if not more!
The car has something close to 300,000 miles on it. I don’t know for sure since the odometer broke several years ago and a new one would cost several hundred dollars. So long as the speedometer still works, to heck with it. We can do without knowing how many miles we’ve put on it. We’re just certain we’ve gotten our money’s worth and way more! The little Toyota half cab, on the other hand, still has less than a 100,000 miles on it. I did use it as a farm truck but now we just keep it around as a spare for when the car is in for its annual service.
Know what? We haven’t had a car payment for over 16 years or a truck payment for more than 27 years. I can’t even imagine how much money we’ve saved by not buying a new vehicle every few years. It’s not like we’re tightwads, either. If we want something we go buy it. When we shop for groceries, we buy the best cuts of meat. We took a lot of vacations until we got to where we couldn’t travel. And so on. What’s money for if not to have the things in life you want and/or need, but why waste money?
Oh, yes. We paid our house off way early. Neither of us liked seeing all that interest go toward the loan. Most people don’t realize it, but when you buy a home, if you start off by making one extra payment, then continue making your regular payments, a 30 year mortgage can be paid off in less than 20 years! And we did even better than that.
Enough talk about money. It’s time to begin sending this issue of Bainstorming out.