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Darrell Bain's Newsletter

July 2007

  From the ever more cluttered, three sided desk of Darrell Bain.

I did make an attempt to make things look a little neater for the visit of my brother and sister-in-law. Betty said she couldn't tell much difference.

The entire content or individual segments of this newsletter may be forwarded or copied so long as www.darrellbain.com source is noted and you mention that the material is copyrighted. I don't mind at all. In fact, I encourage you to do so!

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

Please note: For those who have come to expect the newsletter to appear a week or so before the actual month for which it's intended, this will no longer be the practice. After this newsletter, I will try to have it posted no sooner than the first day of each month. This will avoid confusing me as well as readers, which I've managed to do numerous times. So remember: after this month, don't look for the newsletter until the 1st day of the month!

PS: I first started having it posted early to help drive traffic to my web site. That's no longer necessary. I'm getting wayyyyyy more hits now than I ever expected, even in my wildest dreams. I guess I must be doing something right.


Newsletter Books, Free Books, Opposite Sex Conversations, Lost History, Newsletter Index, Ads, Progress Report, Gary & Barb's Visit, Book Report, Cheating in School, Overlooking Faults in Marriage, Retirement Hours, Good Smells, Last Notes

Newsletter Books
I've just received word that Twilight Times Books wants to bring my newsletters out as books, published yearly. I really hope you won't wait that long to read them, though! Even if you've read them all, the book will be a handy reference for all the topics covered for that particular year, and the subject matter will be annotated, edited and updated. The first book will be slightly longer, since it will include a few months from 2005 and all of 2006.

Okay, now on to the good stuff.

Free Books
If you're not interested in a free book, just scroll on down. Otherwise, read on.This month's selection for the five copies of books I will give away free to readers is MEDICS WILD! To qualify, simply email me from my web site (or from your mailbox) with the subject line MEDICS WILD! The first five people to send it will receive a copy of Medics Wild! free of charge, postage included. All I ask is that if you like the book, please tell at least five other people. Simple, huh? Overseas winners must pay the postage, which runs about seven dollars, but for all others I pay it. One exception is active duty personnel with APO addresses. I pay postage for them.

Medics Wild! is the prequel to The Williard Brothers series (sometimes referred to as the Medics Wild series). It was my first published print novel. It has since been re-edited and reissued by Twilight Times Books in a very good looking trade paperback edition, which is the one you will receive. It is a work of fiction, but most of the incidents in the book actually happened, although some of them have been somewhat exaggerated for humor or dramatic effect. The three Williard brothers in the book are avatars of me and my two younger brothers. We all served in Vietnam together for a period of time. The first book, Medics Wild, inspired me to continue writing about the zany, adventure-loving, politically incorrect Williard brothers up to the present day and beyond. One reviewer said Medics Wild! is funnier than M*A*S*H, which is high praise, indeed! There's lots of adventure and fighting in it, too. The episodes of the jungle juice party and the tons of soap hardly deviated at all from the actual events. All the other books in the series are available as e-books and the second in the series, Postwar Dinosaur Blues is also in print. Others are scheduled for print. Okay, I've rambled enough about free books. Now let's get on with the good stuff. Oh yes, there's one more little note about the free books at the end of the newsletter.

Opposite Sex Converstions
I asked my wife Betty if she had any idea of what men talk about when they're off by themselves, with no women within hearing. Other than sex, she didn't have a clue. The reason I asked is that in the book I'm writing now (in collaboration with a well-known hard science fiction author who's been writing for Baen Books) has a character who's trying to teach an alien how to act like a human female. He suddenly realizes he doesn't have any idea at all what women talk about when they're away from men. Actually, since I'm the one doing that part of the writing, it was me who realized I don't know the first thing about what women talk about among themselves. After querying a few friends, I realized this phenomenon must be almost universal. Neither sex knows much about what the other talks about when in private. All Betty told me was that it depended on the circumstances. Hmm. Leaves a lot of room, doesn't it?

Lost History
I think I've mentioned I have a stack of letters I wrote to my folks in the eighties and nineties, which Mother saved and gave back to me a year or so before she died. When we remodeled the office I moved them from their usual storage spot to one of my bookshelves so I'd have them in sight. I intended to read them all but I've been so busy I simply haven't been able to take the time. Just looking at them makes me realize how much of our cultural history is being lost for no other reason than cheap long distance phone rates. Back then it was still cheaper to write than phone and besides I didn't have a computer until the nineties and didn't get on the internet until 1996. Hardly anyone writes letters today, including me. It's just so much more practical to phone or even e-mail--but phone talks aren't recorded and e-mails usually aren't saved. The end result is that we no longer have a record of many ordinary, everyday events that historians love. Without letters we'd know very little about our frontier life except highly embellished accounts by the newspapers of those days, and much of it never made its way to the news. For example, written records by our ancestors in covered wagons heading west are the only accurate history of how the people coped with their hardships on the trail. Right now there's a frenetic drive on to preserve personal accounts of individual experiences in WWII before all those veterans are gone and it's too late. They're in their eighties and nineties now and dying at the rate of 1,000 a day. If you have any elderly relatives, now is the time to ask them to relate parts of their lives you don't know about. I feel very lucky that some members of our family have written about their early lives during the great depression. There's a letter in one of my newsletters from my Uncle T.C. (who's in his eighties) now that I wouldn't take a million dollars for. And that brings me to my next subject.

Newsletter Index
Lately I've had to refer to my earlier newsletters for various reasons and it occurred to me that some of my readers might want to go to the archives and re-read some of the subjects I've written about. So, I finally bit the bullet and compiled a subject index by month. It should be on my web site by now, at the head of the newsletter section. Uncle T.C.'s letter is listed in the August 2006 newsletter. I wish I had the time to have an alphabetical index compiled, as much for my own benefit as yours but it's just too much effort for my poor typing skills. I can't type without looking away from the keyboard, even though I use the proper fingers for the right key. That's because I taught myself rather than taking a typing course. Dern it, why didn't I go to High School? Because I thought I knew everything worth knowing at 16, that's why. And I liked to read much more than I liked to go to school. Anyway, the index is up now. I hope it proves useful to you.

You'll notice that I've accepted my first newsletter ad, appearing at the top of the page. I explored the new search engine being advertised and I can report that it does do a bit better job of narrowing the focus of searches.

Progress Report
At last! Warp Point is up at eReader.com! Sorry it took so long, but it needed a bit more editing and a few other delays that ran into months. I sincerely hope it does as well there as at Fictionwise.com. At the time I'm writing, the second week of June, it's been the #1 best selling book at Fictionwise over the last six months. I haven't got a date yet for its appearance in print. Note: Two days after being posted at eReader.com it made the #1 spot there, too.

Bark!, my story of the weenie dog who not only saves the world from aliens but takes care of some of our idiot politicians at the same time is up at Fictionwise.com and hopefully, eReader.com by the time you read this. It's a short book but was a huge delight to write, partly because I had a chance to honor the memory of one of my best friends who passed away a couple of years ago, but mostly for the subject matter. The weenie dog is modeled after our own addle-brained, cross eyed, ADHD affected dachshund who is such a delight to watch as he single-mindedly goes about his "work" of shoveling straw and rearranging the garden hoses. A picture of him at work with a tool he created was posted in the September 2005 newsletter--and I just used my newsletter index for the first time! How neat, not to have to go searching through two years worth of newsletters to find what I wanted!

I'm currently working on a novel, untitled as yet, which will be in collaboration with a well known hard science fiction author. It's about some aliens whose lifeboats from their wrecked spaceship land in various countries of earth and how both we and they go about coping with their presence.

My brother, Gary is still with the editors at this writing but it may be finished and available as an e-book by the time I send the newsletter to my webmaster. It's another short book, a non-fiction this time, in tribute to my brother who I'm also lucky enough to have as my best friend. Well, best male friend, anyway. Betty is my best friend, always and forever, as well as my wife, lover, and companion. Gary and his wife recently visited us and I'll tell a little about that later in the newsletter. In fact, I think I'll do it right now.

I'm also working on the editing and annotating of the first Newsletter book. That's taking more time than I thought it would because I find I want to add additional comments on many subjects.

Gary & Barb's Visit
Gary and his wife Barbara live on a forty acre place in a rural area about forty miles from Oklahoma City. Like me, he's getting a little old for those long drives. In fact, like me, he has a bad back and Barbara did most of the driving, just as Betty does almost all of our driving now.

They stayed four days and we had a really great time. Betty went all out with her fabulous cooking. She used several of the recipes in her new book, Articles, Muses, and Favorite Diet-breaking Dessert Recipes. It's available at both Fictionwise.com and eReader.com and in print at Lulu.com. It rained most of the time but that didn't bother us because we spent most of our time eating, talking, reading and playing Forty Two, a southern domino game which unfortunately, like a lot of the old time entertainment is gradually fading away.

Gary stayed up most of one night reading the book I reviewed last month, Warp Speed by Travis S. Taylor. He loved it, just as I did.

They found good homes for two Great Pyrenees, Moose and Sugar after Gary's back got so bad he couldn't walk his fence line every few days and patching spots where they would find a weak spot and tunnel under the fence. That left their two Pomeranians, Cocoa and Frito. Susie, one of our dachshunds, got along fine with them but Tonto has to get both his brain cells functioning at the same time before he'll accept anything the least bit new and that didn't happen until the last day they were here.

The funniest part of the whole visit occurred when they got back home. They're down to two horses now and contrary to the usual weather patterns in their neck of the woods, it's rained so much that their pastures were absolutely lush with Bermuda and Rye grass. Did they graze on it? No, they broke through the fence around the house, got up onto the front porch, pooped all over it, then smeared it around by stepping in it while they were busy turning over the big can of sunflower seeds and scattering them everywhere. He sent me a picture of a small portion of the porch but said the rest of it looked just as bad or worse, with horse poop even on the padded lawn chairs they keep on the porch. If I have room, I'll post the picture at the end of the newsletter. By the way, Gary's web site url is http://www.videoexplorers.com. It's well worth your time to take a gander at it. They'll be headed to Colorado in their motor home the second week of June to spend the summer there, away from the heat.

Book Report
I'm up to my neck in a number of projects related to writing as well as the book I'm working on so I haven't done as much reading as normal. However, I've read some good ones.

I just finished Travis S. Taylor's sequel to Warp Speed, The Quantum Connection. Everything I said about Warp Speed in my June newsletter goes double for this book. He's an amazing man. Check out his web site, http://www.doctravis.com. Wander around it and see how a man with five advanced science degrees can seem just like us ordinary mortals. As he puts it, "I'm just an overeducated Redneck."

Betty and I just read the second of the Honor Harrington series, The Honor of the Queen, by David Weber. It was even better than the first, On Basilisk Station. Both of us stayed up well past our normal bed times with the book. Both of us shed tears at the conclusion, if that tells you anything. I don't know why I waited so long to begin that series.

Jonathan Nasaw's The Girls He Adored is a humdinger of a fiction thriller, the search for a serial killer by an FBI agent and a psychiatrist. The killer suffers from a multiple personality syndrome of a type never encountered before. All three of his personalities are portrayed brilliantly, to paraphrase a reviewer, but I feel exactly the same way about this book. It's original, compelling and by an author I haven't tried before, but you can bet I'm going to be looking for more of his books.

Known Dead by Donald Harstad is by another author I haven't had the pleasure of reading before. It's a very good portrayal of a deputy sheriff working with the FBI to run down an extreme right wing militia group that has been killing law officers. He does characterization and plotting well enough to keep you reading and not wanting to stop. I love those kinds of books, but I guess any reader does, huh?

Tom Cool's Secret Realms is another new read, but not an author I've never read before. I discovered him several years ago when I bought Infectress. Secret Realms is a fiction novel about future use of virtual reality, extremely well done and the more you read of it, the more exciting it gets. This is another for my keeper shelves, which are becoming overcrowded again despite thinning some out last December in preparation for remodeling the office, now complete. Betty's keeper shelves are even more crowded than mine because she reads more than I do since I started writing and her favorites are usually shorter than the ones I like enough to keep for re-reading. We have a lot of overlap, but in general I'm a science fiction and/or thriller fan while she loves British murder mysteries. We're both eclectic readers though and definitely don't limit our reading to just those genres.

Kyle Mills writes great thrillers, but Burn Factor outdoes even his previous ones, many of which featured eccentric and politically incorrect FBI agent Mark Beamon. Beamon makes only a cameo appearance here, though. The story concerns an army general who's protecting a brilliant scientist in order to let him finish what he believes is a project crucial to Armerica's defense. When a female would-be FBI agent is doing some programming for the FBI's data base on serial killers she discovers the deception and from there on it's almost non-stop, breathless action. A great read for anyone who likes this kind of book. A little gory in places, though.

Oh, my. I keep adding books to my list to either order or try to find when we make it to a book store again. Being an author myself, I almost hate to buy used books and deprive the author of a royalty, but Betty and I read so much we'd have been in the poorhouse by now if we bought every book new. I do try to order the new paperbacks by authors I really like, and the ones I really like, David Weber for example, I'll even spring for some hard covers, like the last new one of his I read and reported on, In Fury Born.

I just finished Von Neuman's War by Travis S. Taylor and John Ringo. It was a huge delight and had a good number of characters, all of which were portrayed in really great fashion so I didn't get them mixed up. I've seen ads for this book before but hadn't bought it. Betty says she's next in line. In fact, I suggested she read it before starting the sequel to Warp Speed by Travis S. Taylor so she'll have a better appreciation of nanotechnology. Betty has read a good deal of science fiction since marrying me, but she's just now getting involved in military science fiction. My only excuse for not reading Von Neuman's War before now is that I'm so involved in writing and promoting and newsletters and fan mail and so forth that I just don't get a chance to read as much as I'd like to. Here's a little fact for you. After reading Warp Speed, I was so impressed that I made a vow to start taking afternoons off for a while and do nothing but read and tend to other little chores. That's not as much of a sacrifice of writing to reading as you may imagine, since I've been getting up at two and three o'clock lately. The older I get, the more dominant that early bird gene seems to be.

Note: Betty stayed up all night reading Von Neuman's War. I think her crying while reading the epilogue woke me up. I cried buckets myself. You don't' have to be a science fiction reader to love this book. As Betty said, "There's just no stopping point in it. You have to keep going."

Cheating in School
I recently read an article in the Houston Chronicle about the prevalence of cheating students in school nowadays. It's nothing new so far as I can see, but the very idea has always been anathema to me. I'd sooner have taken an F while I was in school rather than cheat on a test. I've even accidentally seen a correct answer to a question on a test that I didn't know, but I left the problem blank rather than cheat.

The following is a true story of when I was in college, taking a test in algebra on the matrix algebra section of the course, along with other problems as well. If you've ever studied matrix algebra you know what a long and detailed procedure you have to go through in order to solve just one equation. There were some other problems I don't remember now, but the whole test took a good eight hours to complete, if not more. The professor gave the test to us as a "take home" test since we couldn't possibly spend that much time in class. As it turned out, everyone in the class except me got together in groups and compared answers. Naturally, everyone in the class except me made a perfect score. I worked my butt off and made 95, an A in anyone's book. However, the professor knew immediately what had happened and accused everyone of cheating. To prove the point, she went through every part of the test except the matrix algebra problem and had students go to the blackboard and show how they'd worked the problems. Hardly anyone in the class except me could work the problems because they'd gotten the right answers and procedures from other students in most cases. Well, it still couldn't be actually proved because everyone who couldn't work problems at the blackboard said they'd "forgotten" how to do them by that time. The professor ranted and raved about how everyone in class was a cheater. I didn't say anything then, but after the class I went to her office and flat out told her how much effort I'd put into working the damn problems and I hadn't cheated a damn bit and if she didn't apologize to me I intended to go see the Dean right then. Actually I put my statement in more pungent terms than that to show her just how angry and resentful I was at the false accusation. I got my apology in very contrite terms because she apparently knew I was telling the truth, especially when I told her how I was holding down a full time job in a medical laboratory while taking a full load every semester at school, including both sessions of summer school.

I guess the moral here is that cheating has been going on a long time and that apparently, given the opportunity, almost every student nowadays will cheat. Isn't that a shame? However, I really doubt that's always been the case. In the olden days, (like when I was in elementary school) if a student was caught cheating they'd not only get a good paddling but take a zero for the test and a report sent to their parents that probably resulted in another paddling at home. I don't believe in really hard physical abuse for cheating like it was done back in the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries, with a cane on the bare back, but for something as downright crooked as cheating in school, I don't think a few swats on the behind would hurt a bit. It might instill a little honesty through the seat of the pants since it doesn't appear to be taught too much at home any more. Well, 'nuff about that. It isn't possible these days so I'll get off my soapbox.

Overlooking Faults in Marriage
Sometimes I've been at social gatherings and seen one spouse continually correcting the other. I can only imagine what goes on at home. Once you marry your true love or just begin to live together, you'll inevitably start discovering faults in your significant other that you probably haven't noticed before. Most of them will probably be little things but you will discover them. You're also almost certainly going to find things that your other half does that you don't particularly like. So what do you do about it? My best advice is to do nothing and say nothing. We're all human and we all have faults. The best way to start an argument or fight is to constantly harp over things which really shouldn't amount to a hill of beans. Let it go. Or if you really can't stand it, do it yourself. Another way to make a marriage smoother is to try to think of little things that might make life easier for your spouse. If it's the other one who washes the clothes, unroll your shirt sleeves and turn your tee shirts right side out, for example. If you see a spot that constantly gets missed in dusting, why not just do it instead of griping? We all have little habits that annoy the other person. You probably haven't really thought about it much, have you? I don't like to see lids not closed properly on jars and containers and so forth. Do I gripe? No, if I see one I tighten it myself and don't say a word. Betty is the same way. I'm sure I have more faults than her but it's going to take something like ignoring a volcano erupting in the back yard before Betty will mention them to me. It sure makes a great marriage when neither spouse complains unless it's absolutely necessary. And maybe that's why Betty and I have never had a real fight and only a very rare argument over anything. And maybe that's why I love her so much. It's one of the reasons, at least.

Retirement Hours
Are you one of those people who, after they're retired, find that they are just as busy as they ever were? I am. Do you still keep regular hours now that you're home all the time? I don't, not really. I have the early bird gene (recently discovered) that affects 0.02% of the population so I'm normally about four hours in front of the rest of the world. However, now that I work at home I go to bed whenever I please and get up when I please. Here lately, I'm finding myself hard at work at the computer on various writing projects at 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning, then go to bed at five or six. It really depends on whether I've had a good mid-day nap or not. If so, I get up real early. If not, I'm wide awake at two o'clock. It sure is nice working at home. Actually, I worked at home for fifteen years before retirement, running our Christmas tree farm, but I kept more regular hours then (only getting up at five) because Betty was working outside the home most of the time and I had to cook supper (dinner to you northern folks) most days of the week, unless she was out of town on a business trip. Anyhow, I think a person has to stay busy at something after retirement or they'll find their brain cells dying. I thought I'd love having all the time in the world to read. I tried doing nothing but reading for a couple of weeks once. Know what? Pretty soon I was looking for something to do. I really don't know what the purpose of this little vignette is. I opened the current newsletter file to make an entry in the Book Report section then scrolled on down and started rambling about the first thing that came to mind. Sometimes that's fun, even if it doesn't make much sense.

Good Smells
Betty and I were on the way home one morning from our monthly shopping trip to Wal-Mart. We do most of our shopping during the month at the local supermarket, not only to support local business but because it's so convenient. The monthly trip also allows us to buy many items not available at the stores in our little town.

Anyway, we were on the way home and passed the mowers on the side of the road and the smell of new mown grass penetrated even through our closed windows and air conditioning. Betty remarked on how good new mown grass smells and I agreed. Then we went on to see how many more smells we both liked. Here's a partial list: Fresh peaches, New cars, Baking bread, Frying bacon, Brewing coffee, Fresh ripe watermelon just cut, New hard cover book fresh from the printer and opened the first time, Sea breezes, and frying onions. At that point, we suddenly realized how many good smells are associated with food and laughed, because we both have to watch our diets these days when for most of our lives we both ate anything we wanted to and still stayed slim and trim (sorry about that for you poor souls who gain weight just from sniffing food, but we can both really appreciate how hard it is to stick to a diet now). Talk to your friends, family and significant other and see how many good smells you come up with. There's far more than listed here, but the others remain as an exercise for students. No pop quizzes or tests, though; just have fun.

Last Notes
It's easy to see which of my books are the most popular. All five free copies of Alien Infection were spoken for by the day after notification that my newsletter was live.

Life On Santa Claus Lane was the May free book selection. I received a letter from one of the winners yesterday that gave me the biggest laugh I've had in a long time. I quote,
"Just a note to tell you that I really enjoyed Life on Santa Clause Lane. And believe me more than five people asked about it so you got lots of publicity. Perhaps I should not have been reading it in the surgery waiting room while my wife was having her knee replaced. Biscuit on Viagra. I'm still rolling on the floor."

Just to explain, Biscuit is the name of the Dachshund who ran the farm for us back then.

I used the term "poorhouse" in the Book Report section above. I just happened to wonder, are there any poorhouses still in existence?

I recommended an editor to my main print publisher (the editor I mentioned in the June newsletter who produces such a good newsletter himself). She liked his style. Guess what his first assignment is? He'll be editing my autobiography, expanded from the memoirs on my web site. Your sins come back to haunt you, don't they. I wrote and told him if he didn't do a good job, I'd make toast of him in my newsletter. Just kidding, of course. He had a hard time earlier in life, just as I did, so he'll be able to sympathize while doing the editing.

Note: The editing is now finished. This book is a complete autobiography, including all my warts and faults and goes into a lot of detail about my earlier traumatic life and my struggles to contain a lot of demons and channel them into writing, a life-long dream. One of those demons is the addictive syndrome that runs in our family. It has plagued me and my brothers all our lives.

My autobiography will be out in the e-book version at Fictionwise.com by the time you read this. The Title is Darrell Bain's World of Books. The title is derived from my love of books, the only thing that kept me going on many occasions.

I strongly urge you to read at least the accompanying blurb, where I explain how I sincerely hope the book will become an inspiration to anyone who has had to struggle to overcome a long series of misfortunes, many of their own making. Roadblocks and cavernous obstacles in your life can be conquered if you simply don't give up and keep plugging away. Dreams can be realized and you can find your partner and soul mate in life if you will only persist. There's a rainbow waiting out there for you. Go find it.

I was a guest of Jerry Royce at http://www.iRockTalkRadio.com. It was a talk show. That was lots of fun and they want me back in the fall under their line up of "Favorite Guests", so I guess I did okay. There's now a permanent link to his site under Favorite Links in the menu of my web site, http://www.darrellbain.com

My stepdaughter Pat decided to teach one semester of 4th grade summer school this year. She said she hadn't realized how much more difficult it was going to be to teach these students than her regular fourth graders. It figures, because most of the kids in summer school sort of struggle in school, for various reasons, or they wouldn't be there.

And I think that will be all for this time.

Happy reading to you all!

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
July 2007



Places to find my books

Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.


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