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Darrell Bain's Newsletter

November 2007

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 included as follows:
Darrell Bain Newsletter
Copyright © November 2007, by Darrell Bain

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

  Subjects this month:

New Links, Special Update, Tonto Again, Free Books, Reading & Writing Science Fiction and Thrillers, Intellectuals, Old English Literature, Book Reviews, Reply to Parents and Civilization, Aging, For Dog Lovers, Newsletter Names, Savage Survival, Notes from Musing, Excerpt from Mindwar.

New Links
I'm going to add the two urls below to the menu of my web site under links. They're fun to peruse when you have some spare time.

Special Update
In last month's newsletter I stated that Savage Survival was available for order. There was a publishing glitch that took time to straighten out. It is available now at bookstores and Amazon.com. However, you can get the best price by ordering from the publisher, Twilight Times Books at $28.00 or directly from my web site for $26.95, postage paid and your copy from me will be autographed. Click on the Book Sale link on this web site. By the way, the "new and used" books of Savage Survival sold by Twilight Times from Amazon.com are brand new copies and less expensive than their direct cost at present. Sorry for any inconvenience you suffered trying to order when it wasn't there.

Tonto Again
If this keeps up, Tonto is going to become better known than me. I've written of him numerous times in my newsletter and his autobiography just appeared at Fictionwise.com under the title Tonto: The Autobiography of an Odd, Addled and Autistic Dachshund as Told To His Master. I know that's a long title, but he insisted.

And I know what you're thinking. An Autobiography by a dog? Dogs can't talk! I know, but Tonto did one night and told me all about himself. I had it listed in the science fiction category even though it's not really science fiction, but where else would a book written by a dog go? Well, told by a dog, anyway. I did the typing.

And now--I just got word that his autobiography is going to be included with the print version of Bark! the real science fiction novel (appearing in print February 2008) that I wrote where a dog similar to Tonto saves the world from aliens and does away with a lot of crooked politicians in the process. It is available now as an e-book at Fictionwise.com

If you see an odd little dachshund heading for Hollywood, send him back, please. He's already got a big head. I don't want anyone making a movie about him or he'd become insufferable.

Free Books
If you are not interested in a chance at a free book, then scroll down to the next subject. Otherwise, read on. This month, the free book offer is for Ultimate Suggestions, a science fiction thriller. A renegade chemist has discovered a substance that can be delivered surreptitiously to almost anyone and instantly convert them into a hyper-suggestible state so intense they will do anything they are told to. When the drug hits the street, it becomes a race to find the manufacturer before the formula becomes known and changes society irrevocably because everyone wants it. What wouldn't you give to make anyone your willing slave for as long as the effects last? And then be able to tell them to forget what happened and be almost assured they will? To receive a free copy of Ultimate Suggestions, you must be one of the first five persons to send me a mail, either from my web site or your address book, with the words ULTIMATE SUGGESTIONS in the subject line. That's all there is to it. I do ask that if you are one of the ones to receive a free copy, and you enjoy the book, please tell five other people about it. That's all. Oh, yes. I pay the postage, too, so the first five people who mail me with ULTIMATE SUGGESTIONS in the subject line are not out a penny. Thanks for reading and good luck!

Please Note: No overseas unless it is an APO address or you agree to pay the postage (about 8 or 9 dollars).

Reading & Writing Science Fiction and Thrillers
My mother liked to brag that I could take any subject and turn it into a story. That's the truth. I can. Whether it would be a good story is another matter. I've also been asked why I don't write romance since that's what sells these days. Well, the fact is, I do in a sense. I just put my romance in the context of a science fiction or suspense/thriller novel (and I did write one romance, Hotline To Heaven, at my mother's request, although it didn't turn out quite the way an ordinary love story ends, nor was the subject matter run of the mill like most romances).

So why do I write science fiction and thrillers? That's a simple question to answer. For the same reason I read them. I like to read and write about sociological and technological events and extrapolate them into the future, speculating about where they might take us in years to come, or read books by others who do it. I suspect most science fiction authors do the same when writing about things which haven't happened yet--but might. I've always been interested in science and technology and great sociological trends I see happening and I've always wondered, "if this goes on…." where will they lead.

Here's a good example. Our government is spending money hand over fist, putting the country further and further in debt. Governments are just like families. They can't live beyond their means forever. Sooner or later the piper has to be paid. I can see a financial debacle coming for our country. Perhaps it won't happen until after I'm gone, but it will take place. That's a certainty. We owe more money and have committed to pay for more programs and have guaranteed more loans than can ever reasonably be satisfied. So what happens? We renege on our debts. Our money becomes worthless. Our savings are worthless. We have a depression to rival that of the Great Depression of early last century where unemployment reached highs of a quarter of the population and where adults and children both went hungry. That's what's going to happen. And don't expect our politicians to do anything about it. They are about the most craven, uncaring bunch of selfish no good critters that ever lived. They just keep robbing Peter to pay Paul and expect it to go on forever, I guess. Won't happen. I feel sorry for our kids and grandkids. They're the ones who are going to reap the harvest being sown by those jerks in office and I don't exclude any of them, except possibly Ron Paul. There's any number of stories that can be created from the coming mess.

Another example is the continuing explosion of biological knowledge, genetics in particular, and how it will clash with established religious beliefs. That's already happening, along with a paradigm shift in religion toward fundamentalism and extreme positions. No telling where this will go. I've written a number of stories in this mode, The Pet Plague Trilogy, and The Melanin Apocalypse in particular.

So far as my style of writing goes, I'm not really all that outstanding. What I do best is tell a straightforward story without a lot of extraneous detail. From sales and ratings, my fans and readers appear to like this approach. I could wish for the ability to write as well as some of the authors I read, but I got a late start in writing for real and doubt I would have ever reached their heights anyway. Some days I think my best writing is behind me, then I'll come up with an ideas like Warp Point, this year's winner of the Dream Realm Award or Human By Choice, the novel currently being finished up by Travis S. "Doc Travis" Taylor and decide I can still do a pretty good job.

What I really love about writing is that it's a great way to spend my retirement, especially since my back is crippled enough that I don't like to travel much. And I can write pretty well what I please and usually find a market for it. When I begin caring about the characters I've created, I know I've got a good book going.

The picture below was taken by Barbara, my brother Gary's wife during their visit. It typifies how we spent a lot of our time. I'm the farthest from the camera, Gary is next and Betty is nearest. Didn't we have some wild, exciting times?

The little doggie is Frito. She belongs to Barbara. She is about 17 years old and was the only one of us standing when the picture was taken! Even our doggies were snoozing or maybe thinking deep intellectual doggie thoughts.

You can read about Gary's true life wild adventures in the book I wrote about him, My Brother Gary, available at Fictionwise.com and eReader.com even if the picture below doesn't show him in a very exciting mode. He's currently converting all his videos of adventures onto CD and sending them to family and friends. He may sell some; I don't know yet. If so, they would certainly be worth buying. The first one he's doing is Stranded In The Pacific. That was a wild and wooly time and Barbara was with him then, newly married!

Gary's web site is www.videoexplorers.com and is well worth a visit. I promise!

Old English Literature
I don't have any idea now what they're teaching in grade school, but when I was in either the fourth or fifth grade, we had to read Silas Marner by George Eliot. George Eliot. I was able to get through it because I liked to read and had nothing else available at the time, but I didn't think much of it. I don't think anyone else in my class finished it. Skimmed over it maybe, but no one read it for enjoyment. I also have no idea what the purpose was for giving kids that age something like that to read. It certainly didn't do anything to instill a love of literature in us kids. In fact, just the opposite. It probably killed the idea that old English literature might have something to offer to most of us. I was so turned off that I think my attitude carried over into the later years. Maybe some of the kids found something in high school to inspire them. I wouldn't know since I didn't go past the ninth grade and only got two credits at that.

Later on in college I had to take English literature. It consisted of stuff written long ago, from The Canterbury Tales to Pope and Shakespeare and so on. I already had a bad attitude about anything written after about 1930 or so (other than Mark Twain) so I didn't get much out of the course. Okay, there's a point to this. Why don't they let kids read something that's fun and then gradually lead them on to stuff written in bygone ages? Or is that too much to expect? Why not give them modern literature to begin with, something they can relate to? The only thing I liked about that college course was a bit of Coleridge and some of Kipling. As for the rest of it, I did only what was necessary to pass, all because of Silas Marner. I suspect a lot of kids get turned off by such stuff if it's still being taught in elementary school today. And I still don't know why Silas Marner is considered worth preserving.

Book Reviews
I first ran across James B. Johnson on a trip when I got off with nothing to read almost 20 years ago. I grabbed Mindhopper from a stand in a convenience store and it turned out to be one of the best science fiction novels I've ever read! The story involves a boy who can "talk" to his friends around the world, a man who apparently ages backward when he becomes involved in dangerous situations, such as trying to protect the boy, and a race by governments to be the first to produce faster than light travel--which can be developed only with the assistance of the boy. It's humorous, heart-warming, exciting and Johnson has a style all his own. I've gotten all his other books since, but this remains his best one.

I just read Night Passage by Robert B. Parker. He's a very good writer and has had a number of books published. I'm going to look for some more by him. The one I have read is about the powers that be in a town looking for a Chief of Police who's a wimp for reasons of their own, but wind up choosing wrong--and then have to face the consequences. Parker has a very terse style of writing (or did in this book) that I like.

The Hundredth Man by Jack Kerley is another author I hadn't read before but one I'll look for again. This is an unusual hunt for a serial killer, helped along by another insane killer who is the brother of the detective. Unusual and a breathtaking ending.

I've reported on Guns Up! by Johnnie M. Clark, but it was well worth reading again and worth mentioning again. For a look at Marine grunts in Vietnam, it's the best I've come across.

What Mad Universe by Fredrick Brown is an old one but still a great read. What with Alternate Universes in the news lately, it's even pertinent to today's headlines. It also has the added feature of an introduction by Phil Klass who tells a little about the personal side of Brown. He was a fine writer and this is a fine novel. He didn't write too many science fiction novels. In that genre he was better known as a master of the short story. He wrote hundreds of them. I wish someone would collect them all into one volume one day. I have several of his collections but I know I'm missing more stories than I have.

Once An Eagle by Anton Myrer is one of the best military fiction novels I've ever read. You can still get a used copy. In fact, I'm going to have to buy a new used copy. I've worn my old one out.

David Baldacci always writes great thrillers. The Collectors is his latest, following the adventures of characters in a previous novel, known collectively as The Camel Club. I've reported on it, so I'll just say that this one is even better!

Benefits of Reading
Sometimes I'm asked why I read so much and what's the use of it? Especially the fiction, other than for enjoyment. Actually, you can learn a lot from fiction. Most authors go to a lot of trouble to get their research right so that the facts in the fiction books you read are mostly correct. The most frequent errors I see in fiction are those dealing with medicine, especially when referring to microscopic work. Many authors seem to have it in their heads that you can take a drop of blood, place it on a slide, look at it through a microscope and determine what kinds of germs are infecting a person. That's completely inaccurate. First, unless you have a systemic infection, which is rare, the germs don't get into the blood and second, even if they did you couldn't identify them in a drop of blood--or probably even see them if they were there. I saw that mistake in Stirling's Dies The Fire, which was rather disconcerting since he was so accurate with all his other historical research, and I've seen it numerous times in other books. I suppose all authors make mistakes from thinking they know something that they don't. I know I have, and had it pointed out to me, which induced me to do better research in the future. But back to what's the good of reading? For one thing, unlike movies, it exercises the mind whether the reading be fiction or non-fiction. And knowledge is never wasted, if for no other reason than making you an interesting conversationalist. And anyone who has kids knows how many questions they'll ask during the course of growing up. Knowing more increases your status in their eyes and helps to educate them apart from what they learn in school.

I read for enjoyment. It's always been my chief form of relaxation, but I've also accumulated a wealth of knowledge in the process. I've never understood when watching some people in a doctor's office or airport how they can sit for hours simply staring blankly into space. I'd no sooner go to a doctor's office, airport or any other place where I might have to wait without a book than I would go without my clothes on.

Reply to Parents and Civilization
Last month I wrote a piece about how parents wanting to make a better life for their kids was one of the driving forces of civilization. Here's one of the replies from readers:

I read your October newsletter with interest, especially the section talking about Parents and Civilization. As far as you went, I agree with you, but you only talked about half of the equation. Yes, parents want things to be better for their children. They want their children's lives to be fuller, richer, easier and filled with joy instead of the parents that they experienced. You are quite correct that this is one of the prime factors that push civilization to higher levels ... to a point. But there comes a point in climbing this ladder of civilization when things become too easy, too full and too rich. Once this point has been reached, the continued efforts of parents to enhance their children's lives starts to head down the path to the destruction of that civilization. If history has taught us anything, it is that the human animal needs hardship to reach his potential. We see this time and time again throughout history. This destruction of civilization can take many forms; conquest by another group made stronger by adversity, decay from within, etc. The decline has already begun in our own civilization and can be seen almost everywhere if one only has the eyes to look for it. What most parents either forget or never really understood is that the pain we experience in life makes us stronger in the long run. The problems we encounter teach us lessons that almost never can be learned any other way. The failures teach us how to avoid them in the future. Someone can tell you these answers, but most people never really understand until they find the answers themselves.

Today in our society we are teaching exactly the wrong things. I really don't see any outcome other than the decay and eventual loss of our civilization. I think we have gone too far to be turned back by anything other than a religious movement (and that would be the worst of all cases). Karen.

I can't find much there that I disagree with, but the overall trend of civilization is continued advancement, so my theory still holds. DB.

In case I haven't mentioned this before, I hate getting old. Yeah, I know, people have to age in order to mature, propagate the species, etc. etc. ad infinitum. I still hate it. I hurt all the time. I have to take a pile of medicine. Sex gets to be almost as much work as fun (note the almost). The body doesn't work right. My eyelids droop and interfere with reading despite two surgeries. It becomes harder and harder to motivate myself to exercise. I can't remember as well as I used to. I can't concentrate as well. And worst of all, aging seems to play favorites. Some people function well right on up into their eighties or even nineties while others, like me, find themselves all banged up in their sixties. Fortunately, my mind still seems to be working fairly well.

Betty stated something the other day about aging that's sort of funny in a way. When you get to the stage where your body is aging, say over 65, you never know when you hurt whether it's just old age creeping into your body or whether you have a real illness. How do you tell the difference? Most of the time you can't, and even doctors have problems figuring out one from the other. My brother has degenerative spinal disease so bad that he went three days after a massive heart attack before seeing a doctor because he didn't know the pain in his side and shoulder wasn't the usual reverberations from the metal plate in his upper cervical vertebrae put there several years earlier to try to make moving around easier. He wound up having quintuple bypass surgery.

Anti-aging research is progressing, but not nearly fast enough to help Betty or I. Some of you reading this, or your children, perhaps, may reap the benefits and live to well over a hundred and still be functioning with no problems. There's just one thing about extremely long life, even if it gets to be hundreds of years. No matter how long you live, your past life seems to have passed in a blur. You're a kid and the next thing you know you're old. This is one of those strange facts about time that we experience.

For Dog Lovers
I just had to share this review of Doggie Biscuit! written by a reader at
www.amazon.com who bought the book:

Laughed and Laughed UNTIL we cried, September 15, 2007 By Lynn M. Weber

This book gave us more then we ever thought. The author brings true to life the real colors of having a doxie in your world. I originally got this book for myself to read. I ended up reading aloud virtually the entire story to my husband. Whether you have a doxie, much less a dog in your world, the story of Biscuit is hilarious, and to ones amazement daily life with a "wiener dog". Even more wonderful is I have since read this book to our 3 nephews who laughed so hard THEY even had tears coming down. This book comes soo highly suggested, it would be a shame to go through life and to never have heard the story of "Doggie Biscuit" Thank you Darrell Bain

It's this kind of reaction to books that authors really love to see--where it's obvious that their writing has truly moved someone and brought some joy into their lives.

Doggie Biscuit! was also the book a judge in Shreveport sentenced three people convicted of animal cruelty to read on top of their sentences.

SPECIAL NOTE: All my royalties from print copies of Doggie Biscuit! sold between now and Christmas will be donated to a Dachshund Rescue Organization.

Newsletter Names
I have received only four responses for naming my newsletter. Whether I use any of them or not, one of the persons will receive the book I promised. However, I want to wait a while longer. If you have a name for this newsletter you think would be a good fit, write and let me know. You may wind up with a free copy of Savage Survival. My publisher will select the winner, if any.

Savage Survival
And speaking of Savage Survival, if you haven't ordered your copy from your bookstore or Amazon or Barnes and Noble on line, better do it now. Those five hundred copies won't last long. I think I have mentioned several times, this is one of my favorite books I've written, and Lyda Brightner is my favorite of all the characters I've created. I think I got the idea partly from watching how orphans in Vietnam managed to survive and sometimes even care for younger siblings while living from hand to mouth, but never giving up.

I will be conducting a virtual book tour during the month of November for Savage Survival. Look on the home page of the web site here and click on the schedule. I will be available at various sites during the whole month of November to take questions and discuss Savage Survival and anything else you'd care to bring up. Or if you don't want to bother looking it up on my site, here's the schedule:

Nov 1  http://www.mochamemoirs.com/nic/blog/
Nov 2  http://www.fictionscribe.com/
Nov 4  http://www.freewebs.com/mary-andrews/macrocosm.htm
Nov 5  http://storycrafters.blogspot.com/
Nov 6  http://beyondthebooks.authorsabode.com/
Nov 7  OPEN
Nov 8   http://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/
Nov 9   http://www.inspiredauthor.com
Nov 10  http://elysabethsstories.blogspot.com/
Nov 11  http://scifichick.com/
Nov 12  OPEN
Nov 13  http://www.plugyourbook.blogspot.com/
Nov 14  OPEN
Nov 15  http://www.fabianspace.com/
Nov 16  http://www.fabianspace.com/
Nov 17  http://catharsys.wordpress.com/about/
Nov 18  http://catharsys.wordpress.com/about/
Nov 19  http://www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com/
Nov 20  http://buzzthebook.blogspot.com
Nov 21  http://www.myspace.com/beverlywriter
Nov 23  http://www.myspace.com/angelaverdenius
Nov 25  http://www.larriane.com/myblog.htm
Nov 26  http://www.publishingsecretsofauthors.blogspot.com/
Nov 27  OPEN
Nov 28  http://www.myspace.com/beverlywriter
Nov 29  OPEN
Nov 30  http://www.sffworld.com/blog/5226.html

Notes from Musing
It's hard to find a web site to recommend that I think most of my readers will enjoy. That's why you see so few on the links page of the site. If you have one you think most readers would like to explore, let me know.

Anyone who thinks women don't have mechanical ability ought to watch them operating or repairing a sewing machine!

I wonder if other authors go back and read their own stuff? I do. Bob Tucker, one of the old science fiction masters told me he re-read his books while we were corresponding. I met him at a convention once. He was a real character and lots of fun to talk to. Do any of you other authors read your own books, and if so, why? I read mine because I just enjoy a good story and some of mine are pretty good if I do say so myself.

Excerpt from Mindwar
Mindwar has just now become available in print. You can order it from your favorite bookstore or Amazon. It is a novel of a terror attack aimed at school children which doesn't kill them as anticipated because of an error in the formula of the nerve agent. Instead, it affects their mirror neurons, giving the children a strange perceptive ability that grows as they age, abilities which will eventually change our society--if the kids are allowed to grow up.


        "Pat, are you going to take Amber in?" Melissa Gomez asked her friend. Her dark complexioned face clearly showed her worry and confusion that arrived with the letter she had received from Doctor Jones, suggesting a psychological evaluation as a follow up on the children who had been hospitalized after the terror attack. Melissa was at Pat Morrison's home the same evening she received the letter, already sipping coffee. Pat always had some ready.

        "Let me see." Pat scanned the formal letter quickly, looked up at Melissa, and handed it back. "It's the same thing I got. I hate to take Amber out of school for a day, but she's doing so well I doubt it will hurt anything."

        "Jimmy's grades have improved, too," Melissa said. "He was just an average student before, but now he's making almost all outstanding."

        "Hmm. I guess he's studying more. I wish I could say the same for Amber. She's reading and using the net more, but it's hardly ever related to her school subjects."

        "But Jimmy's not studying more! He did at first, but now…I think his English has improved a lot. Maybe that's it. I think maybe Joe made a mistake trying to keep him speaking both English and Spanish. Maybe it was confusing him, huh?"

        "Could be," Pat conceded, but she wasn't so sure. "You know, Jimmy is much brighter than you give him credit for; he's just interested in subjects we don't teach at school, but he does pay more attention in class now. He watches me a lot. He watches the other kids too, but it seems like he's much quieter than he used to be. So is Amber, for that matter."

        Melissa's brow wrinkled with thought. She knew she wasn't nearly as intelligent as her friend, but it had never made a difference between them. Besides, Joe was smart enough for both of them, and she knew she was a good teacher. Pat frequently commented on how well her students did in her friend's class when they team taught. Melissa knew she wasn't very good with math, and Pat didn't care much for the crafts classes like she did. It worked out well for them. "Do you think it means anything?"

        "I'm not sure," Pat said slowly. "I think I will make an appointment, though, and see what Doctor Jones has to say."

        "I guess I'll do the same for Jimmy, then. I hope nothing is wrong."

        "So do I," Pat agreed. "But relax. I'm sure it's just routine."


        Pat dressed carefully, wondering why at first, but then remembering that despite Doctor Jones not being very good looking, he had impressed her in some fundamental way that made him seem attractive. Nothing had come of the second meeting with him, but she suspected it might be shyness on his part, that or the fact that he didn't want to become involved with a patient's parent. Perhaps his appeal has something to do with how he handled that FBI agent so cleverly, she thought. Or perhaps it was the twinkle in his eyes behind his dark framed glasses. I've dwelt on both long enough, for all the good it'll do me. Nevertheless, she eyed herself in the bathroom mirror to see if she still approved of the pastel blouse and pants she wore and went to dress Amber.

        "Why are we going to the hospital, Mom?" Amber asked, her long-lashed brown eyes watching her as if waiting to gauge her answer.

        "To see the doctor, sweetheart. He wants to talk to you."

        "But not Doctor Henry," Amber stated, as if reciting a fact.

        How did she know that? Pat wondered. "No, you haven't met this doctor." Pat smiled winningly, glad that this would just be a talk session so far as she knew.

        "Okay, Mom. It's not going to hurt. That's good. Will you fix my hair, please?"

        Once again, Pat was shocked at her daughter's intuitiveness. She must be sensing my attitude, Pat thought. She's getting good at that. Pat dismissed her fears; if there was anything wrong with her daughter, Doctor Jones would let her know. He wouldn't try to disguise his opinion in a bunch of medical gobbledygook like some doctors did. At least she didn't think he would.

        "There, sweetheart. Turn around now and let me see how you look," Pat said after brushing and arranging Amber's hair.

        Amber turned, a little smile playing on her face, but she said nothing.

        "My goodness! You're prettier than Mom! You're so pretty I'm going to have to tie you up with a big bow and put a sign on you that says 'To Mom. From your pretty daughter.'"

        That finally drew a laugh from the little girl, but it died as soon as her mother's back was turned. She waited for a moment and then reached for Pat's hand. Amber smiled up at her as she took it. Anticipating what Mom would do was a fun game.


Thanks for reading.

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
November 2007



Places to find my books

Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.


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