(Most of these titles are also available in audio and paperback!)
Small Town Crime & Horror (Boxed Set) - YOUR BEST DEAL IN THIS SALE!!!
Welcome to Green River!
Members of The Bain Insiders Club get immediate, exclusive access to the five books below for just $1!
And usually there's also a sixth book available! I make each book I write available to members for a full month before it's published anywhere else!
Members at higher tiers get free signed print books, free audiobooks and more! Click to learn more!
The Will Castleton stories have come together a bit haphazardly. At first Will was simply a paranormal P.I. who appeared in diverse, mostly unrelated tales in various magazines and anthologies. If an editor needed Will to fight vampires, fine, here’s “Nighteyes!” You need him for a ghost-hunting anthology? Great, here’s “Samantha.”
But then, as interest in Will Castleton grew, I decided he needed an official origin story and chronology. I am still working on the tales and novels that will fill in said chronology, and I probably will be for years to come. Stories from various periods in his life might crop up at any time.
Here’s the chronology for what’s been released thus far. I’ll update this list on my blog as I add to it.
Rookie U.S. Marshal – DEATH SIGHT
Green River Sheriff’s Deputy – PURGATORY (scheduled for January 2016), “Homeward Devils (flashback scenes), “Blood Glaze”.
Re-instated U.S. Marshal – BLOOD TIDES
Paranormal Investigator – “The Bridge,” “Samantha,” RETURN TO ANGEL HILL, “Nighteyes,” THE HOUSE IN CYRUS HOLLER, THE MAN WHO NEVER STOPPED RUNNING (Section 1 of a future novel, exclusive to The Bain Insiders Club).; BEWITCHING THE WEIRD SISTERS (novella in progress, exclusive to The Bain Insiders Club).''
("Homeward Devils," "Blood Glaze," "The Bridge," "Samantha," and "Nighteyes" appear in THE CASTLETON FILES.)
I’m having a great time filling in the gaps in Will’s chronology. And I love that my readers are patient and seem to be enjoying the stories! Thanks for sticking along for Will's strange journey through space - and especially time!
Nine of my books
- normally priced $2.99 or more -
will be just $.99 each!
Wednesday, Nov. 11 - Tuesday, Nov. 18!
During that time you can grab the following for just a buck each!
Green River Crime Stories
Green River Dark Fantasy Tales
Green River Ghost Stories
Weed: A Green River Crime Novel
Gray Lake: A Novel of Crime & Supernatural Horror
Death Sight: A Will Castleton Novel
The House in Cyrus Holler: A Will Castleton Adventure
The Castleton Files: Five Adventures
I was honored to write the introduction to C. Dennis Moore_'s story collection WHAT THE BLIND MAN SAW. You can read it here!
WRITING AND READING AND SEEING BLIND
Leave it to C. Dennis Moore, writer of some the sharpest short horror fiction around. _What the Blind Man Saw is the perfect title for a collection of short stories.
Because every writer goes into every story totally blind, no idea where they’re going, no idea of the exact size or shape of the thing directly in front of them. This might change very quickly - on the best writing days the entire structure and scope of the tale might present themselves to you in a flash. But you still have to sit down and write the thing, flailing until you find the specific keys, groping around until you can finally make out and choose the specific words, feeling your way until the overall pattern of the thing emerges, fingering your way into and pulling your way through the story and caressing every inch of the outer edges until it will not reveal even one more nuance.
And even then you, the writer, have only your experience of the story, your take on it, a mental image of the piece. You’re still blind, after all.
Because then, like the blind men in the fable about the elephant, others will come along and read your tale and their experience of the thing will also be unique despite the image you hold in your mind’s eye - they’re all reading the exact same words on the page, but some reviewers will give your story five stars and others will lament that they have to give it even one. We’re all blind when it comes to fiction, and no two minds’ eyes will ever see exactly the same story.
There’s another reason I think What the Blind Man Saw is a perfect title for a short story collection - and a particularly perfect title for a C. Dennis Moore collection.
So many writers - especially horror writers - never grow or expand in their vision. It’s like they sit down to their keyboard on the first day they ever write a story, and they pick their favorite horror movie poster and tack it up on the wall nearby. And then they write about that poster for their entire career. It’s fresh at first, maybe, but eventually it gets predictable and safe - both for the writer themselves and for their readers.
And it’s worth noting that many hacks have scribbled their way into very comfortable incomes by writing about that one single poster for decade upon decade.
For writers like Dennis, on the other hand, there’s no poster. Or, rather, there’s a different poster for each and every story, one that they themselves write into existence. They approach each story as a blind man might approach a new and unfamiliar object.
For me, this is the joy in writing - and in reading short stories.
I don’t want safe.
I don’t want predictable.
I want stories of the richness, variety, depth and range crafted by Moore and others who see the way the blind see.
But why do short stories at all?
I mean, Moore has several novels under his belt - and they sell far better than the shorts! So, why, dammit, does he continue to waste his time on the things!
I could say something like “Well, Dennis is a true artiste; he’s blind to the almighty dollar!” Except that’s bullshit - the part about him being blind to money, I mean. Not the part about him being an artist.
And yet maybe it’s not bullshit. Maybe money and sales aren’t everything. I’ll tell you this: I don’t fully trust any writer who doesn’t do short stories.
Make that: any writer who doesn’t routinely do short stories.
As in any writer who doesn’t routinely have a short story going in addition to any novel-in-progress.
And I’ll also say this: I fully trust C. Dennis Moore as a writer.
Here’s a bit of news for every Amazon wannabe critic who has ever left a one star review because they “really loved the story, but it was only twenty pages long! Thank God I got it for a borrow/free/99 cents!”
The regular production of quality short stories requires more discipline, more craft, more confidence and more blood, sweat and tears than a novel. 80,000 words of short stories - like the volume you now hold in your hand - are generally the result of much more effort than an 80,000-word novel.
It’s unfortunate that most readers are blind to these facts. I think the general reader sees “short” and thinks it’s the equivalent of a banal television sit-com, and they see “long” and think it must be an Oscar-worthy epic blockbuster. Not so. Not even close.
A writer who regularly produces stories of the quality you’ll see in What the Blind Man Saw is a writer you’re lucky to be reading - they’ll provide you with more visions in a few sentences than you might encounter in eight entire volumes of cranked-out full-length Kindle serial novels.
Here’s what I love about short stories. You go into them blind, usually not knowing at all what to expect, and the best of them fill your head with a novel’s worth of visions in under an hour of reading. A novel is like keeping watch, like keeping a lookout, like continuously scanning between here and the horizon - and don’t get me wrong, I do love novels, staying with a vision, a vista, for the long haul, unblinking, seeing what wonders might pop up in the larger landscape. But the best short stories give you insights, truth, surprise and revelation in short order, each piece filling a formerly dark, empty space with an awe and amazement that you can look back on and return to for a lifetime.
I hope C. Dennis Moore keeps writing novels for a long time. But I especially hope he never gives up on the short stories.
And, most of all, I hope he continues seeing like the blind man sees.
The book is available in Kindle and paperback editions at Amazon, with an audiobook coming soon.
For quite a while now, my writing partner C. Dennis Moore and I have been trying to define why the proliferation of the WRITE BOOKS FAST!!! and WRITE SHORT BOOKS FOR QUICK CASH!!! and HOW TO PUMP OUT SERIALIZED FICTION FOR SKEEZE AND PROFIT!!! attitude amongst the self-publishing culture really pisses us off.
After all, on our best days, both of us write fast. This year we've both pumped out at least a book a month. And we both have some very short books. And we both have series characters out there. It looks like we're the biggest damn hypocrites on the planet!
But it was a short essay on Bruce Springsteen, written almost a decade ago, that finally defined for me what's wrong with the write-short-serials-fast-for-maximum-bucks attitude.
You have to be something of a businessperson to be an indie writer. The nature of selfpub simply requires it. But there's an inherent trap. The problem is the focus on writing as commodity, as product. And the problem, for me at least, lies in how so many authors view their audience.
Back when all the WRITE 10,000 WORDS PER HOUR!!! ebooks first started coming out, my initial thought was "Why the hell would you want to?" I've had a few great writing-marathon days, sure - days when no one else is at home and the story just pours out. But, God, I wouldn't want that regularly. As Truman Capote said (I think wrongly) of Kerouac, "That's not writing, that's typing."
To me, writing fast is like screwing fast. The end result is reached, the desired goal is achieved - more or less - but will you feel it an hour later? Will you ever really look back on it? Oh, sure, you can go back and edit your words; you can cuddle in the sweaty rush of post-exertion, but the afterglow of that fully-realized, fully attentive, three-hour, all-morning session can freaking change who you are - both as an individual and as a bonded unit.
My problem is that, for me, speed-writing and plotting-for-the-public fundamentally change how I see the work. I'm not even sure it affects the quality - but it affects my relationship to the work, to the audience, and it doesn't seem that's what I want out of art in the long run.
Here's the quote fromlegendary music critic Geoffrey Himes, writing about Bruce Springsteen, which I immediately forwarded to Dennis upon reading: "Popular music treats the listener as an object, as an ATM machine that will spit out money if you punch the right buttons. Populist music treats the listener as a subject, as a protagonist whose struggles deserve the catharsis of a musical mini-drama. Springsteen has lived up to the ideal of populist music better than anyone of his generation."
Himes put it in perspective for me. I write in a pulp tradition - psychic detectives, time-traveling cowboys, technology-wielding wizards. I don't live in some ivory tower fantasy. I like money. I like selling books. And I love hitting two or three thousand words on a good day. But when I write too fast, when I plot too commercially, I feel like it's pop music. I feel like I'm treating my audience like an ATM. What's worse, I feel like I'm Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, toggling some secret camera hidden just above the ATM, seeing how many of the pleb's pennies he can grift.
But you know what? In the end, there's nothing wrong with pop music. I know people who will, but I won't turn off a catchy tune just because it might have been written by committee in a corporate building rather than by an acoustic guitar-wielding Strummer for Righteousness.
And in the end, my books and stories might not even be any better than the hyperspeed scribes and give-em-what-they-want plotters. After all, who am I to say?
But I will say this - hang out too long on the wrong side of the pop/populist or art/product equation and you start phoning it in. You start looking for the easy fix. Your soul thins.
Look at it this way - Springteen's Born in the U.S.A. was, in so many ways, a calculated conglomeration of button-pushing songs designed to transform him from cult wonder to superstar. From the cover art to the song order, that particular album, classic as it is, had "corporate product" stamped all over it. And it worked.
But I'll conclude with another line from Himes' essay: "Whether it was the tragedy of “The River,” “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Atlantic City,” the comedy of “You Can Look,” “Glory Days” and “Fire,” or the dozens of brilliant songs in between, Springsteen has never kept his fans outside the song, gazing in at a fantasy life as if their noses were pressed up against a store window; he puts his listeners inside the song where their losses and triumphs, blunders and hopes become the subject matter. There’s no greater songwriting accomplishment than that."
By David Bain
The following is a prose-poem essay regarding the long genesis of my first novel, GRAY LAKE. I wrote it shortly after completing and self-publishing the novel, which has now reached thousands of readers. I still can’t believe, a couple years later, that the book is finished, and I’m humbled by all those who are saying they enjoy it. The essay mentions several completed and as-yet-uncompleted projects that, at the time, were all in the future. Time is a writer’s bane. I fully intend to eventually complete every idea mentioned in the last section of the essay – let’s just pray that time agrees…
Gray Lake: A Sort of Memoir
It’s 1985. I’m sixteen. I’m driving down a long, straight road in my ’79 Mustang. The dark of night. There is no moon. “Soul Kitchen” by The Doors is on the radio. The headlights are fuzzy and I have to squint to see through the fog starting to roll in from the sides of the road. A book is sitting in the passenger seat. It’s the book I want to write about the strange, wonderful summer I’m experiencing. Two of the protagonists of the book are Brian and Iggy, guys my age, who have a ghostly encounter on the shores of Gray Lake, just like my best friend and I had (or convinced ourselves we had) only a few weeks ago. I realize the road I’m on is Lakeview, and that the lake which is the title of the book I have yet to write is my destination. I frown a little as I look at the paperback. The cover is a picture of the lake with a lady’s regal eyes opening just at the horizon. I love reading; I especially love Stephen King and H. P. Lovecraft and this newly emerging guy, Clive Barker, who’s just insane. But the sad truth is I have absolutely no idea how to write a book. And besides, even though I don’t know it, I’m still experiencing the stuff I want to write about. And there’s a lot of road up ahead.
It’s 1988. I’m nineteen. Same road, feels like the same night. Guns n’ f—in’ Roses is cranking on the cassette deck of my killer Chevy Nova – did I have a little accident with the Mustang back down the road a ways? Why, yes! Yes, I did! And I’ve discovered various fun substances which may or may not have contributed to that little fender-bender, and I might have been in a little bit of trouble because of those substances, but who cares because my car is full of girls and friends and the smoke in here is thick as the fog outside. The book is still sitting there on the stained passenger seat, but who has the time to write it? The headlights stutter, they flicker and seem to fade. The night is getting dark and I’m losing focus. Too much beer, too much smoke, too many friends who really aren’t friends at all – and suddenly it goes dark. Suddenly I’m alone. And I can barely see now. I flick the one remaining headlight to bright, but I’m going slow, slow, able to see only one yellow stripe ahead on the road. I feel around. The book is still there. Its shape is comforting. And it starts whispering to me, urging me on to my destination.
It’s the early 1990s. I’m in my mid-twenties. I find myself quite a bit further down the road, in a rusty AMC Hornet. A shit car if ever there was one. There’s nothing good on the radio; it seems everything is crap. I lost the Nova back down the road a ways and had to walk for a long stretch, but I read and learned a lot and managed to stay out of further trouble – did four years of college fly by somewhere in there? – and in some blink-or-you’ll-miss-it slowdown along the way I apparently realized that poetry might save my mortal soul. I’m traveling the road not taken – the road I thought I’d never take, that is. And it’s good for me. But it’s also lonely, terribly lonely, nothing but fog and cold and dark, though the headlights are working better. I feel around and find the book is still there on the passenger seat (the Hornet has a bench seat – dull, tan vinyl), but the book – and the whole passenger side, in fact, are buried under a heaping mound of loose typewriter paper – poems and short stories, many of which have sold or been published. Sheets of white paper stained with scattered words and letters are spilling over into the footwell, are blowing out the window which I’ve left slightly open; sometimes a draft gets in and they billow and fly about the car, making it hard to see, and in the end, all of it amounts to little more than … me, driving alone on this never-ending road. It seems somehow that I’m teaching at the local community college and doing every other sort of odd job, from working in sawmills and trailer and baby food factories to selling men’s suits and driving roads much like this one, checking the growth of endless fields of corn in order to support myself and keep this piece of crap car – is it a long hatchback or a short station wagon? – running. I swear this shitkicker car will nickel and dime me to death! And meanwhile there’s no sign of a destination, not even a rest stop or any hint of dawn on this endless night, this murky, forlorn road.
It’s later in the same decade and I’m in a zippy silver Celica. It’s bright out, blue skies for once, and I can see the lake glimmering in the distance, out there on the horizon! I’m suddenly a journalist, so I must be on my way to cover a story, but it seems Gray Lake is also my destination. My wife? My wife to be? Either way she’s in the car with me, and so is the book. It’s fifty pages long, one-hundred, two-hundred! It’s growing day by day, writing itself, a treasure trove of ideas – it isn’t whispering to me, it’s singing! Look! The book has grown to nearly four-hundred pages! But hey. Hey, what’s this curve in the road ahead? The lake’s on the left side of the road, way up ahead there by the horizon. So why is the road turning right? Why is Gray Lake suddenly nowhere in sight? The book’s whispering to me again as a colorless, depressing mist starts settling over the scenery. The book whispers that it doesn’t want to be longer than It orThe Stand or Swan Song or, hell, Proust. It whispers that, if we’d stayed on the particular path we were on to Gray Lake, that’s what would have happened. What it does not say, but what I’m coming to understand as I drive on into the mist, is that while I might have the skills to drive a sleek Celica, I’m not up to commandeering a rampaging two-ton semi quite yet.
Somehow I’ve driven into a new millennium. I’m cranking Jimmy Buffett. Life’s not bad. The weather is fair. I can’t complain. The minivan I’m driving has cruise control and the three kids in the back, though always making their presence known, aren’t being too loud. At least not usually. The stack of small press short story anthologies, diverse magazines and literary journals on the passenger seat are nice companions, and the book is taking form again, starting to peek through the pile. I’m headed for Gray Lake once more – there it is now, back in front of me, on the approaching horizon – but I’m also heading for Chicago. Columbia College in Chicago, to be exact. My goal is to return to teaching, by way of a master’s degree in writing. There are developmentally disabled people in the vehicle and me helping them seems to be paying for the minivan. These folks want me to write a book about them, but I tell them I have another destination, other promises to keep before I can do that. The book that’s been my longtime companion has distinct weight in the passenger seat – the upholstery is sinking around the book’s edges. The lake comes closer into view, its waves sparkling, suggesting mysteries only I can uncover. Teachers, compadres, writing associates come and go from the van as we crest a final hill. Another half-mile to the shore. The book sits fully formed. We’re almost there, my friends.
Summer 2011. My PT Cruiser is sitting on the shore of Gray Lake, but it’s soon to be replaced by a Hybrid Honda Civic – gotta watch the gas mileage these days…. I’ve been teaching at a community college for about five years now, and I’m only stopping here for a quick breather on my way home … and yet it seems I’ve spent more than a quarter century just driving, driving, driving to this spot to drop off the book. There are countless tire tracks here on the shore. Lots of people stop here. It seems a good place to say goodbye to this novel and leave its fate to others to decide. The road goes on from here. There are lots of other stops I want to make. Along the way I’m going to pick up a guy named Will Castleton and spend a lot of the trip with him. There’s another lake where a guy’s been kidnapped and is staring out a special window. Another stretch has indie rock concerts at almost every stop, and I get to report on all of them. Pretty soon I’ll pass a van containing a couple developmentally disabled people about to start down their own road with a slightly off-kilter social worker. Yet another stretch of my road home is rife with zombies and a post-apocalyptic landscape.
There’s lots of adventure, heartache and excitement coming up.
I can’t wait to get going.
You can buy Gray Lake: A Novel of Crime and Supernatural Horror at Amazon
Hi everyone! Thanks for clicking through from The Friends of Bain newsletter to check out all the new stuff! Here's what's new since July, including
- THE BEST STEPHEN KING BOOKS, RANKED IN ORDER
- my new BEST PODCASTS series
- two new audiobooks, WORLDS COME UNDONE and GREEN RIVER CRIME STORIES
- WELCOME TO GREEN RIVER! (a specially-priced box set of all my Green River crime and horror stories)
- THE BAIN INSIDERS CLUB!
1. The Best Stephen King Books, Ranked in Order
I've been a lifelong Stephen King fan. (Well, since sometime in middle school, I think.) I've read every one of his major releases and then some.
But Stephen King’s immense body of work can be daunting, overwhelming even, especially to new fans. My hope is that this list, offering a ranking and overview of his best 25 novels, can provide an easily digestible menu potential King readers can cross-reference with their own interests, thereby providing insights into where they might want to start or what they might want to read next.
This edition of this chapbook was published in July 2015 and does not include any of King’s works published after that time, though occasional updates are planned.
If you like audio, Curt Campbell does an excellent job of reading this chapbook. It's only about an hour long - an easy way to pick your next King read during a commute or workout!
Amazon Kobo Audible iTunes See other sellers here
2. Introducing The Best Podcast Series
I love podcasts (basically online radio shows, for the uninitiated). They've changed my life. I drive more than 24 hours every week and love continually learning, exploring and being entertained as the miles fly by.
I believe we're living in the Golden Age of Podcasting. But there are so many podcasts out there. Everybody and their brother and their second cousin seems to have one. So how to discern the wheat from the chaff? No problem! I'm doing it for you! Every three weeks or so, I'm releasing a new short list - always just $.99! Below are some of the more popular editions already released. You can check out more and keep up with the new releases at BestPodcastBooks.com. (The covers link to Amazon, but the website links to many more online bookstores.)
3. New Audiobooks!
I've also had two new audiobooks come out since the last newsletter.
Quintin W. Allen reads GREEN RIVER CRIME STORIES. Quintin also read my crime novella WEED (as well as the violent dark fantasy BAND OF GYPSIES), and I think his dark, somewhat raspy voice is perfectly suited to the thuggish side of my fictional small town!
(I wrote an old-school rap song as part of the story "Fifteen Minutes" and just Quintin's human beatbox performance of it is worth the price of the whole thing, in my humble, unbiased opinion!)
Amazon Audible iTunes
WORLDS COME UNDONE is a collection of fantasy and science fiction stories read by Curt Campbell.
I had questioned how Curt was going to handle the characterizations in the story "Graven Images", which features an Amish man talking to an alien with a very specific (and rather challenging) vocal characteristic - but I needn't have worried! Curt's work here is a peach!
I am so lucky to be working with these readers!
Amazon Audible iTunes
4. Welcome to Green River!
This boxed set collects Volume 1 of all three of my Green River, Michigan collections.
The stories are separated in volumes dedicated to:
GREEN RIVER GHOST STORIES
GREEN RIVER DARK FANTASY TALES
GREEN RIVER CRIME STORIES
All three volumes are also available at $2.99 each,
but the boxed set is a steal at just $3.99!
5. The Bain Insiders Club has been restructured
- Yes, it's a Patreon page - but it's really so much more.
- This page is about you and me. The Insiders Club isn't some cold "Come buy my stuff on Amazon!" pitch. It's about sharing dreams.
- I would be nowhere without my readers. The Bain Insiders Club is where I truly get to show you my appreciation.
And it's where you'll truly get to know me.
- Right now I work several jobs, full time and part time - teaching, retail and public service - to support my family and my writing. Although I do it every day, my writing sometimes has to be secondary to other job obligations. My goal, of course, is to write full-time - to bring you more books, faster - and your support would mean the world to me.
- Along the way, depending on which tier you join, you'll get exclusive books, free ebooks, free audiobooks, signed books, advance and in-progress books and even more! It's amazing what just $1 per month could do!
- I believe The Bain Insiders Club is where all the true magic will happen from here on in!
- I'm hoping to see you there!
David Bain - Writer.