| home | audio books | books in print | ebooks |
| email | links | memoirs | news | newsletter | reviews |


Darrell Bain's Newsletter

July 2006

  From the organized chaos of Darrell's computer and desk.

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

Pleasures of Life, Daydreaming, Tonto, Current Projects, Memoirs, Book Report and more.

The Pleasures of Life
The other day I remarked to Betty, "You know sweetheart, it is a real pleasure to be married to someone who loves to read as much as I do." Having been married twice before to women who thought books were something to prop doors open with or to throw at me for reading at the table, I was very sincere in saying that. And of course Betty agreed. It is nice when two people who love the same form of recreation (and reading to us is recreation) are also married to each other. This got me to thinking of some other pleasures that perhaps we don't often stop to think about, other than the obvious ones such as our children and homes and friends and things which most of us agree are everyday pleasures.

For instance, isn't it nice to be able to sit down at your computer and roam the world, correspond with friends thousands of miles away, even in different countries, and have the wealth of knowledge of all mankind at our fingertips? A dozen or so years ago that would have seemed like magic and now it's an ordinary, everyday experience.

Or how about being able to walk into a supermarket and be able to buy just about any delicacy you can imagine, have wide choices in what you eat, be able to buy just about any household apparatus in the world for the equivalent of a few hours work? Think about how many people in the world can't do that.

Lack of pain is a real pleasure. Two hundred years ago, and sometimes less, a person undergoing surgery or with a toothache or the truly awful pain of some cancers, or like me, with my degenerative spinal disease, had no recourse but to just grit their teeth and suffer--or commit suicide. Today pain medications alleviate most of that. I hardly feel back pain now, but let me go without my pain killers and I am extremely uncomfortable. It's a pleasure to be able to live without pain. Even now, in many parts of the world, people have no recourse. They simply have to suffer.

Shucks, just having thousands of new books a year to select from to read is a pleasure denied to most of humanity through the ages.

All these pleasures and many, many more are part of our everyday lives. Take a moment to be grateful for them and to feel sorry for people in some parts of the world who don't have them. I do this quite frequently.

Everyone daydreams. In fact, everyone spends a substantial part of their daily lives daydreaming. But stop and think: how often do you reveal your daydreams to other people? Seldom, if ever. Right? Daydreams are a singularly private part of our lives, something we rarely share. We daydream about doing dreadful things to a crotchety boss, about making out with a neighbor or tradesperson or fellow worker, about being the person who does something to change the world, or perhaps in the case of authors, writing that best seller which brings us fame and fortune, leading to pictures in our minds of New York receptions by the CEO of the publishing house or to Hollywood where famous actors and actresses vie for our attention, wanting to play the lead role in the movie being made from our book or maybe standing at a podium receiving the undying adulation from an admiring audience who love your books. How often have you imagined yourself a hero or heroine in various kinds of situations? Quite often, I'm willing to bet. If you have children, you probably daydream about their future, almost certainly thinking good things for them. We daydream of winning the lottery or having a say in world affairs (oh how often do we imagine ourselves in the white house, or in a position to be running things the way they should be!). In fact, let's pause for a moment and go to the Wikipedia and reproduce a good, concise definition and explanation of daydreams:

A daydream is a form of consciousness that involves a low level of conscious activity. Daydreaming generally comprises a fantasy while awake. Sometimes, someone who daydreams is seeking to fulfill a dream or hope in their mind. While it may seem a useless human behavioral glitch or fault, it can actually be quite constructive, especially for those who are in a creative career. Often, the daydream takes the form of a train of thought, leading the daydreamer away from being aware of his or her immediate surroundings, and concentrating more and more on these new directions of thought. To an observer, they may appear to be affecting a thousand yard stare. A sudden stimulus may startle them out of the daydream.

I think that says it pretty well. I know it does for me. When I was a child, I was often accused of being absent minded. Actually, I was just daydreaming and slipped out of the real world for a while. At any rate, I think it is fascinating that an activity which occupies so much of our time is one that is so seldom discussed anyone, much less with our family and friends, and not often even with our spouses. However...I'm going to share my favorite fantasy with you. Betty and I didn't meet until I was in my late thirties and she in her forties. I often daydream about us both being real young again, in our early twenties or thereabouts, and being together at that age. Foolish? Well, maybe, but most daydreams are a little foolish when you stop to think about it, but I love fantasizing about that one. I don't think I'll share any of my others, though.

There's one other thing about daydreams I think I should mention. It's not a good idea to turn your daydreams from fantasies to wishes. What you wished might have happened might not have turned out nearly as good as your fantasy. Take an example. Suppose you're daydreaming (and wishing) you had bought that stock you were thinking about that would have made you a large amount of money. If you had, perhaps you would have used some of the money on a vacation. You might have had a car wreck on that vacation and died. Or injured someone else. Or you might have bought a bigger house and robbers thought it was attractive and killed you during a robbery. See? Fantasies are one thing; wishes are another.

I'm content with my life as it is; more than content, actually. Any time I find myself wondering or fantasizing about something I might have done, I always stop and tell myself that if I had done that, I probably wouldn't have met Betty and thus missed out on the very best part of my life. Fantasies and day dreaming are usually harmless and probably fulfill some necessary function of our working mind. Wishing you had done something different isn't quite so healthy, in my opinion. The outcome might have been better, but it could also have been much worse!!!

Weapons in School
I mentioned last month about boys bringing pocket knives to school back in my day. I had a respponse from a reader in Idaho, or maybe it was Iowa, who said in the seventies, boys and some girls routinely brought their rifles to school so they could go hunting after school without having to go home first. How times have changed! A rifle brought to school today would be followed very shortly by a swat team armed to the teeth and ready to kill!

Tonto has fully recovered from his neutering surgery. For new readers, Tonto is our tool making and tool using miniature dachshund who is cross eyed, has ADHD and has problems with smelling and eating, but who is a lovable little cuss for all that, and truly enjoys life to the fullest. One of his testicles hadn't descended so he had a little bit harder time than the usual dog does from the operation. We were scared the operation would change his personality but it hasn't. He's the same silly lovable idiot he's always been, sort of like his master, as Betty says. A couple of weeks ago he got bit on the nose by a turtle. I may be an idiot but I'd never let my nose get that close to a turtle!

I mentioned that Tonto makes and uses tools. For those readers who are new to this newsletter, look at the September 2005 issue in the newsletter archives at the web site and you'll see a picture and a description of him using a tool he created for a specific job. People keep telling us we should get a camcorder and capture this idiot-savant little doggie for viewing in a video, but we just never get around to it.

Current Projects and Writing
I was going real good on a new book, almost half way through the first draft when a bunch of edits came in, along with a whole cluster of doctor appointments and other places we had to go, along with a very enjoyable three day vacation with Colleen, Betty's oldest daughter and our son-in-law, James. A little story about them appears later in this newsletter. Anyway, the new book will be titled Space Trails, I think. I really like the way it's going. I am thoroughly enjoying the writing and believe I've come up (again) with a new twist on how to acchieve faster than light space travel, even if it is done with covered wagons. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I've just finished editing the print version of Shadow Worlds. It's been out as an E-book for a year or so now. The print version will come out later this year. Dr. Bob Rich was the editor for this book, as he was for Savage Survival (which will appear as a hard cover later this year). He is the best editor I've run across in the E-book and small press publication field, and those of my books he's done are much better because of his efforts. Whenever I draw him for an editor, it always makes me wish all the small pubs could could afford editors of his caliber.

Doggie Biscuit was number one on the humor best seller list at eReader.com last week. Dog stories were some of my favorite books when I was in grade school and I still like them today. I'm glad I was able to write one. Doggie Biscuit is also one of the books available on my web site for sale as autographed copies. Adults enjoy it and it is suitable for young people from ages 9 or 10 and up. It's also available at bookstores and Amazon.com.

Sales remain good for Alien Infection, both in print and as an E-book. I just had requests for two autographed copies for the sons of the man whose real name appears as one of the characters. When he gave permission to use his name for a character, he asked that he "die gloriously", and so he did. This book is also available as an audio book. Interested readers may follow the link on my web site under Audio Books.

A note on The Focus Factor. It got mispriced at eReader.com. If you passed it up originally because you thought the price was too high for an E-book, look at it again. The price has been corrected and is now only $5.95 instead of $16.95. Quite a difference!! Even with the overpriced listing, it sold pretty good and has very good ratings. Not unexpected, what with all the illegal immigrants in the news.

I had become so used to seeing my E-books routinely becoming best sellers at Fictionwise that I had gotten into the habit of thinking they always would. And then came White Odyssey. It did not become a best seller. What's peculiar is that right now it is the highest rated of all my books at Fictionwise. There's a puzzle there, but I don't know the answer.

The third segment of my biography/memoir has been posted on my web site. It carries me up to eleven years old and covers the latter years of the forties, and up until 1951. Writing this has been enjoyable and has brought back a lot of good memories, but also some very hurtful ones. The next couple of years, which I'll be relating in the coming segment, were very traumatic for a young boy, and for my siblings, too, I'm sure.

Another note about the memoirs. They have drawn a lot of comments and induced others to begin writing their own, as a legacy for their offspring. I'm really pleased that they've had that effect. So many stories are lost because they're never written down.

Eye Surgery
It appears that my eyelid surgery didn't come out as well as I had anticipated, but it is gradually getting better so I still have hope that it won't have to be repeated. It's a minor thing, anyway, just annoying.

Book Report
I've been reading the series of veterinarian books by James Herriott who practiced in Scotland, beginning in the thirties. The books are fascinating and heartwarming. Anyone who likes animals will love these books. Every one of them, five in all, became best sellers. You can find used copies at books stores or at Amazon.com.

John Varley's sequel to Red Thunder is out. The title is Red Lightning and it's every bit as good. He told me he's working on a third book in the series. I can hardly wait!

Steve Martini's Compelling Evidence is a very good courtroom drama/mystery. It is a re-read and well worth it. I also re-read The Glorious Cause, the fictional history of the revolutionary war I've told about here before. It is absolutely great. Another old friend I took down from my keeper shelves is Forgotten Planet by Murray Leinster. It is a novel composed of stories written back in the twenties and thirties which have been in print in one form or another ever since. That ought to tell you how good they are. It's a story of a group of humans stranded for generatins on a planet where insects grow to gigantic size. His details on the behavior of the insects are absolutely accurate.

By the way, in case you don't realize it, insects are the most implacable carnivores on earth. Tigers and sharks don't hold a candle to the ferocity of some of the creatures you can find in your own back yard.

And speaking of monsters, I also re-read Midworld by Allan Dean Foster. For otherworldly monsters, no other book holds a candle to it. Another re-read was Chains of Command by William J. Caunitz. This was his last book and was finished by another author. It is very nearly as good as his other police novels. While I was doing the editing of Shadow Worlds, my own book of alternate earths, I re-read Alternities by Michael P. Kube-McDowell. It's one of the best alternate earth books I've read.

I just discovered Dan Mahoney by reading Two Chinatowns. It is a mystery and his lead detective, Brian McKenna is a compelling protagonist. Mahoney's writing is also very realistic and descriptive. He doesn't pull any punches. The book was so good I followed up with another of his, Black and White. I wasn't disappoiinted. If anything, it was better.

And last but not least, I'm going to recommend a real old one, The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Farley Mowat. I first read this book long ago as a condensed version from Reader's Digest, but it was so hilarious and so compelling, unusual and heart warming that I never forgot it. While we were on that little vacation I mentioned earlier, Colleen mentioned she had just read it. Then when we got home, Pat, Betty's other daughter, handed it off to us (she had gotten it from Colleen). As much as I wanted to re-read the book, in the unabridged edition, I gave it to my sweetie first, since she had never read it. It was worth waiting my turn, just from sitting and watching Betty snicker, chuckle, laugh and howl about some of the escapades of this dog and its family. It was published in 1957 and became a best seller, so I'm sure you can still find some used copies at Amazon. I recommend it most highly.

An Anniversary to Remember
And speaking of Colleen, I promised to relate somethng else about her later in the newsletter, so here it is, in the form of an e-mail I received a couple of days ago:

For our 37th wedding anniversary James took me San Antonio. He got us a room at the Menger Hotel. He took me to the movies and dinner and then on a carriage ride thru the King Williams District. All went beautifully until the 20 minutes of our carriage ride. As we were crossing an intersection, the driver urged the horse to a trot. As we were going thru the intersection there was a slight dip in the road and the next thing we knew we were covered in horse poop! It seems the horse kicked his diaper and created a shower of poop. The driver and his student caught it full force and causing it to shower down on James and I. As you know, sometimes you've got to make lemonade out your lemons and we did. Needless to say we got many stares as we finished our ride, and when we walked thru the bar and hallways of the Menger. I think James created us a very memorable evening, one we'll never forget.

Only in our family! DB

As I've been writing my memoirs, I've mentioned how the division of labor between men and women (and boys and girls) was so tightly distributed back in the forties and fifties, almost always in the man's favor. There was a kind of sidebar to that as well. Back then, women were expected to cater to men. Indeed, a whole generation (perhaps two generations) of girls had the idea firmly embedded in their minds by a book most girls read in those days, titled "Little Women." Within the context of a very good book, the author instructed girls on how to act to become "ladies," how to treat their husbands, how to run a household and tend to their husband, apparently catering to just about his every wish. Betty told me she must have read that book dozens of times as a girl (she read it so many times because it was one of the few books in her home), and inevitably, some of it rubbed off on her.

The WWII years, when women took what were formerly men's jobs, did a lot to dispel the attitude in women, but it persisted long afterward (and still does to a certain extent today). You can see remnants of it in our society and in most women and men today. I include men here because their actions were a mirror image of women's. Each influenced the other. Women catered to men and men came to expect it.

Until I married Betty I didn't pay much attention to that aspect of life, probably because I had never been so much in love with a woman before, to the extent that I noticed how much she catered to me and took care of me. The longer Betty and I were married, the more I saw how much she strived to please me, but I no longer took it for granted. Her catering to me made me want to do things for her, and impelled me to consider what she would think before making decisions, even though I knew she would almost always go along with whatever I wanted to do. Thinking of her made a better man of me, and just observing her actions in everyday life taught me more about how a couple should get along than a ton of books would have. She set an example by being such a good, caring person and made me want to act the same way. Well, I'm getting a little carried away here, but I frequently do that when talking about the love of my life. There's very few things in this world that I wouldn't do, or at least try to do, should she ask me.

That's a dreaded word for some people. I'm talking about the scheduled, organized exercise, such as you do at a fitness club or by lifting weights, not the ordinary exercise you may get in the normal course of your life. It's a habit that's hard to keep up for most of us, especially as we grow older--and right when we need it the most. I've almost always had jobs where I got a lot of exercise just by performing my work. However, after developing this bad back and closing the Christmas tree farm and becoming a full time writer, exercise just about disappeared from my life. Even when I tried to walk, it hurt my back. I was just about resigned to getting flabby, something I've never been, when my doctor recommended a machine that would let me work out and not aggravate my poor old spine. It's called the Gazelle, and by golly--it works! I've been at it a week now and it doesn't bother my back a bit, but it sure gets me to huffing and puffing! I recommend it to anyone wanting regular exercise. Shucks, if you like televison, just set it up in front of the TV set the way Pat does and watch while you burn your calories. I have mine set up out in the office so it's always in my sight and a reminder to keep at it. And since I soseldom listen to any of my music CD's because they distract me when I'm writing, I've gotten some of those out to play while riding the Gazelle.

I seem to have run out of the subjects I had listed for this month and can't come up with anything else, so it must be time to close. Thanks for reading, and remember, comments about this newsletter can be addressed to me at my web site.

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
July 2006



Places to find my books

Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.


| home | audio books | books in print | ebooks | links | news | newsletter |

Home   Next



Web site content Copyright © 2005-2006 Darrell Bain. All rights reserved.

Web site created by Lida E. Quillen and maintained by Ardy M. Scott.

This page last updated 06-26-06.

border by Windy