Archive for September, 2012

by David Bain

NOTE: You may freely copy and repost or reprint this article as long as all links, the above byline, this note, and all following text remains unchanged.

Writers need to understand this:

Social media – your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, etc. –  is playtime.

It does not significantly affect your sales.

Actually, it might affect your sales a little if you’re already established somewhere beyond the small/indie press. And getting listed on a popular book blog, for instance, will definitely affect your sales (at least temporarily).

But for the bulk of us, it’s playtime.

Yesterday, I hit 35,000 followers on Twitter.

I’m in awe at that number. That’s as many people as live in my smallish Indiana county!

So I tweeted these words in celebration: “Hey! 35,000 followers! Hi to 35,000 people! Here’s a test: How many of you will say ‘hi’ back?”

The first ten minutes generated exactly 28 responses.

Including exactly one guy who told me to “go fudge” myself.

There were only about a dozen more responses over the course of the next hour or two.

I love all my Twitter followers – seriously, even the ones who tell me to go fudge myself … because, hey, we all need to be humbled from time to time – and it was fun seeing the initial flood of responses (thank you, everyone who responded!)  but let’s face it. If you’re thinking of using Twitter as effective advertising instead of just a fun means of communication, that’s a pathetic response percentage.

28/35,000 = .0008

That’s not even a real percentage in my book.

I don’t even want to comment on what that percentage might mean.

Okay, actually, I do:

What it basically means is that if I tweet about my thrilling new novel, DEATH SIGHT (due at the end of October), to 35,000 people, I can expect that only about 28, if that, might actually act on it and click the link and check it out.

Your guess is as good as mine as to how many of those who click would actually buy it.

This is out of 35,000 followers.

Translated to the non-electronic world: You put an ad in the newspaper about your book signing, and it goes out to every resident of your small Indiana county. Twenty-eight souls show up. And some number significantly less than that leave with your book in hand. (Twenty-eight people would probably be a decent number, in reality. I’ve seen less show up for instantly recognizable authors speaking at big city book festivals.)

Not to reduce people to mere numbers – I really do like the connectivity aspect of social media – but I’ve amassed this follower total in a little over a year (about 13 months). I have a feeling it would have taken Stephen King just a little less time to amass as many, would he care to directly join the Twitterverse firsthand.

But I also bet that, given the same number of followers, he would also have achieved a slightly better response percentage in the first ten minutes.

The point I take away from this: Keep writing.

Nothing else, no other self-promotion unconnected to a larger, established advertising-based network, really works.

Period.

Oh, I’ll keep doing the social media thing, sure. Of course.

Because I enjoy the hell out of it. Interacting with what few fans and active followers I do have is one of the daily joys of my waking life. I’ve had some wonderful experiences via Twitter. For instance, although I’ve solicited none of them in advance, all the five-star Amazon reviews for my first novel, GRAY LAKE – http://bit.ly/GrayLake – are from strangers whom I’ve come to know on Twitter after they’ve either read the book and posted their review or tweeted me, letting me know how much they enjoyed it.

I can’t deny that Twitter has certainly resulted in a few sales for me.

But only a few – probably not even the majority.

I still think only my writing itself – my writing, my constant labor, and whatever luck might erupt into my life – will be the only factors to give me anything approaching a break-out bestseller.

Thus, my focus remains on writing – on novels and stories and essays and the occasional poem – not social media.

If you see me here on my blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, you’re seeing me having fun.

One more time:

Social media is playtime – it’s a sparkly pastime, a great way to connect and interact – and I love you dearly for choosing to spend your time with me in this manner.

But it’s hardly the key to success, and should not be treated as such.

NOTE: This essay also appears in my $.99 ebook TEN SHORT ESSAYS ON WRITING.

“Escape”

Posted: September 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

A friend’s high school-aged son made this 1.5 min. video., “Escape”. Pretty killer as an early project!

Ebooks, Also Available In Print…

Posted: September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

It fascinates me that, even a few years ago, the words “ebooks” and “print” would have been reversed in that title. Way back in, say, 2006, ebooks were seen as a fad, the poor man’s way to publish, the bastard stepchild of real books. Now, as my friend Bill Gathen put it so succinctly: “We buy the ebook first, and if we really like it, we’ll buy the print edition as a ‘souvenir copy.'”

A big shipment of “the souvenir edition” of my books arrived today. If you love the look, feel and smell of a good print book as much as I do, they’re pretty darn nifty!

They’re all available, of course, via DavidBainBooks.com.

(I’ll eventually replace these pictures with more professional-looking ones. These were taken with my cell phone – amazing how we’re so reliant on our phones these days; I realized, as I set out to take the pics for this blog, I don’t even know where my camera is!)

Front covers (I)

Back covers (I)

On the shelf, next to some favorites, for perspective…

Front covers (II)

Back covers (II)

All the books

Castleton Banner

by David Bain

NOTE: You may freely copy and repost or reprint this article as long as all links, the above byline, this note, and all following text remains unchanged.

Who is Will Castleton? We’ll get to that guy in a second. First let me introduce my own self. Hi there. I’m Dave Bain, a writer with day jobs as a college writing instructor and an advocate for the disabled. I live in Indiana with three dogs, four cats, two chinchillas and many familial humans. I’m also the author of GRAY LAKE: A NOVEL OF CRIME AND SUPERNATURAL HORROR, many short story collections and the Will Castleton series.

Will Castleton, on the other hand, is a psychic detective. He first came to life in a short story called ISLAND GHOSTS (you can get it for free most anywhere ebooks are sold) that I wrote more than a decade ago. I’ve written elsewhere about how I hadn’t expected to pen more than that one story about him – but now I expect to be writing about him for the rest of my life.

One important thing: Due to the way he snuck up on me, the existing Will Castleton stories and novels are all over the place in terms of chronology. My goal, should I live long enough, is to eventually bring it all together in one clean timetable. Readers seem to be supportive and forgiving thus far, for which I’m eternally grateful. Here’s an essay in which I address the chronology thing in  more detail.

So then, here’s Will’s current dossier. (I’ll update this from time to time.)

Having nearly drowned trying to save a friend’s life, rookie U.S. Marshal Will Castleton woke with the “gift” of being what he terms “slightly” psychic. One of his first adventures upon waking connects Will with The Executioner, a hulking, serial killer whom he’ll be encountering in several future books. (This story is told in DEATH SIGHT.)

Will’s glimpses into the beyond guide his keen eye and his steely determination as his action-infused investigations transform him from a Green River County Deputy digging into small town nefariousness to a U.S. Marshal hunting down criminals nationwide. (You can see a wide swath of his adventures over a large portion of his life in THE CASTLETON FILES.)

His connection with the paranormal also complicates Will’s personal life as he reluctantly learns to accept the supernatural and his relationship to it.

Eventually, Will makes the switch to private investigator, specializing in cases with an eerie bent.

Along the way Will takes on criminals and preternatural creatures big and small, everything from bikers, mob men and serial killers, to ghosts, demons and the vampiric “Nighteyes”.

NOW AVAILABLE

underwater scene with bubbles and sunrays FILES PLAY NEW HOMEWARD

DEATH SIGHT, the first Will Castleton novel, his origin story. It tells the story of the accident that results in Will’s psychic abilities during a Florida vacations, his ghostly trials adjusting to his new “talent” back in his hometown of Green River, Michigan, his first encounters with The Executioner, and his explosive first foray into life as an active U.S. Marshal.

THE CASTLETON FILES collects four previously published Will Castleton stories from various points throughout his career as a U.S. Marshal and investigator of the supernatural. It also includes…

HOMEWARD DEVILS is a short Will Castleton novel only available in THE CASTLETON FILES. Will and his girlfriend Samantha are visiting Will’s hometown of Green River, Michigan. But going home can bring you face to face with the ghosts of the past – as well as old enemies of a more physical nature. And then Will has a vision that someone will die before the night is over… It’s not just angels who look homeward…

COMING SOON

Syrus Cover w. Name

THE HOUSE IN CYRUS HOLLER is a short Will Castleton novel which will appear in PIERCING THE DARKNESS, a charity anthology from Necro Press, due in January 2014, if all goes well. This story takes place after everything in THE CASTLETON FILES and includes a haunted house, monsters, interdimensional travel, action galore and … lots of references for old time radio fans like your author (though you’ll be able to enjoy the story just fine without any knowledge of OTR). The book will also feature tons of other popular authors like  Joe R. Lansdale, Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum, F. Paul Wilson, Edward Lee, Kealan Patrick Burke and many others.

CURRENTLY BEING WRITTEN

GRB betterPossible Return to Angel Hill 3

Because I’m insane, I am, at the moment, simultaneously working on not one, but two Will Castleton novels.

PURGATORY BLUES is the direct chronological follow-up to DEATH SIGHT. It’s also a prequel of sorts to my novel GRAY LAKE and Daryl Burns’ short crime novel WEED, which is set in my fictional universe of Green River, Michigan. In PURGATORY BLUES, Will, now a Green River deputy, must face ghosts past and present as the murders of several teenage girls rock his hometown. Will’s visions indicate he might have a psychic link with the Green River killer. His investigation is interrupted, however, when a Chicago gang hired by Green River bikers kidnaps him. Enlisting supernatural aid in order to escape, the thrilling conclusion leads Will (and the reader) down the ghost road between rural Michigan and the mean streets of the Windy City and back again. Read the prologue!

RETURN TO ANGEL HILL – Will Castleton investigates the haunted world crafted by Amazon horror bestselling author C. Dennis Moore in his novels THE THIRD FLOOR, THE MAN IN THE WINDOW and numerous other stories. Will’s psychic friend Mazie, whom readers will remember from DEATH SIGHT and THE CASTLETON FILES, calls on Will to accompany her when she’s forced to return to her ghost-infested hometown of Angel Hill, Missouri – a town she fled decades before, having nearly been psychologically shattered by a harrowing vision in the woods. A death in the family pulls Mazie back to Angel Hill, but soon after stepping foot on her native soil, she and Will are caught up by spectral forces that twist a ghastly crime from the town’s past into an all-too terrifying present. Read the prologue!

OUTLINED, WAITING TO BE WRITTEN

Menger 2 Running New CoverOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Again, because I’m insane, I’ve created outlines and covers for Will Castleton novels that have yet to be written. I’m hoping to get to them in 2014 and 2015.

MENGER – This novel will take place during Will’s time as a U.S. Marshal and features the return of the antihero/antagonist (anti-tagonist?) from GRAY LAKE, Mike Menger.

RUNNING – This novel details a much alluded-to incident in Florida which reveals Will as a psychic to the media and causes him to switch from U.S. Marshal to private investigator.

CHOOSE – Thanks to a psychic link with the serial killer, Will must choose each victim until he can catch the stalker. This might end up cowritten by Wayne Allen Sallee, possibly featuring heroes and serial killers from his version of Chicago, including The American Dream and Every Mother’s Son from novels like THE HOLY TERROR and stories from collections like WITH WOUNDS STILL WET.

SHORT STORIES

ig POSSIBLENEW BRIDGENEW SAMANTHAnew nighteyes

All the stories in THE CASTLETON FILES except the short novel HOMEWARD DEVILS are available as stand-alone Kindle shorts

Island Ghosts (Free!)

The Bridge

Samantha

Nighteyes

Nintendo vs. the Amish

Posted: September 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Apparently there’s this Nintendo/manga/anime character, Meta Knight.

I’m clueless about these things.

I kept misunderstanding my son.

“Why are Mario and Kirby fighting Mennonites?”

by David Bain

NOTE: This essay also appears in my $.99 ebook TEN SHORT ESSAYS ON WRITING. You may freely copy and repost or reprint this article as long as all links, the above byline, this note, and all following text remains unchanged.

My students come up with all sorts of excuses.

It has literally gone from “My dog ate my homework” – which I actually got once (the dog ripped it up or some such) – to “My dog ate my flash drive” – which happens more often than you’d think. (Flash drives apparently smell like bacon and make wonderful chew toys.)

I loathe flash drives. As a rogue, wandering adjunct community college prof, teaching at three different locations any given semester, I lost flash drives galore, forgetting them in this computer or that farflung corner of the tri-county area. They got left in my pocket and cycled through the wash. They fell off my keychain. My dog (or maybe it was my chinchillas) even ate one.

I once heard of a writer who would save his work to his flash drive, then run out to his barn and put the flash drive in the glove compartment of his pickup – in case his house blew up. (If I were using that in a story, I’d have his barn blow up too, just for spite.)

My English department’s standardized syllabus requires that students have a flash drive. I used to have to explain what one was (a flash drive, not an English department or a syllabus) on the first day of class. Not so much anymore.

But these days I scratch out that requirement – well, okay, I use the delete or backspace button – and ask all my students  to get a Dropbox account.

Every writer, every teacher, every student, every human who uses electronic documents of any sort needs a Dropbox account.

If you don’t know what Dropbox is, follow the link and check it out. It’s super-user friendly and it’s a lifesaver. Basically, it creates a folder on the desktop of your computer. Anything you put in that folder automatically gets backed up online. Furthermore, you can put one of these folders on any device you have. Anything you save to one folder automatically shows up in your Dropbox folder on all your devices. And furthermore, you can access your secure Dropbox account and download and upload files from any computer with an internet connection. It’s a lot like emailing your work to yourself, but a lot less hassle.

Every semester I have several students, even computer geeks, who come up and personally thank me for turning them on to this simple but awesome tool.

I have three novels-in-progress, several semesters of work and grading, all the files for my ebooks, including text and cover art, all my family pictures, and endless music files backed up in my Dropbox. I need never be in fear of losing any of that – even if my house, barn, pickup, dogs and chinchillas blow up.

I’ve even used Dropbox to store a few free ebooks for my adoring public to download – The Whispering Worlds Horror/Fantasy/Science Fiction Poetry Anthology and The Road to Gray Lake. (Links to your Dropbox files are secure unless you decide to make individual ones public.)

And, best of all, your dog can’t eat your Dropbox.

Unless he eats your laptop, I guess.

(So tell me again, why, exactly, did you wrap your laptop in bacon?)

(Note that Dropbox is the one that I use, but there are dozens of sites and services like this.)

NOTE: This essay also appears in my $.99 ebook TEN SHORT ESSAYS ON WRITING.

by David Bain

NOTE: You may freely copy and repost or reprint this article as long as all links, the above byline, this note, and all following text remains unchanged.

A large percentage of my stories and novels take place in the fictional town of Green River, Michigan. (The mayor, Michael C. Norton, would call it “a small city.”) The town is an amalgam of places I’ve lived. It’s nostalgic, quaint, dark and deadly. It’s home to every strata of society – look into the stories below and you’ll find the town’s filled with working class folk … but also men and women who’ve grown rich and powerful beyond their wildest dreams: people who will do anything to protect the success they’ve either earned … or fallen into. You’ll encounter socialites, street punks … and specters. We’ll look at the town’s teens, its troubles, it secrets, its terrors. We’ll look at prominent citizens and forgotten souls. We’ll look at the bright veneer and the dark underbelly. You’ll find love – and seething hatred. You’ll find fun, angst, action and tears. You’ll find the town has a history … and that a lot has been left out of its history books. But mostly it’s my hope that, like me, you’ll find the town has a reality all its own. Welcome to Green River…

My colleague, Daryl Burns, a fellow community college instructor and former police reporter is now hard at work, writing short crime novels set in Green River. The first, Weed, is already available, to be followed shortly by Meth. (Hmm, do we see a pattern in the titles?)

Links are provided for stories that are also available as individual ebooks and print chapbooks.

(Note: This blog entry will be updated as more works featuring Green River are created.)

Novels

Gray Lake: A Novel of Crime and Supernatural Horror

The Care and Feeding of Michael Anthony Zee (Coming Soon)

Death Sight (Will Castleton)

Purgatory Blues (Will Castleton) (Coming Soon)

Homeward Devils (Will Castleton) (Available in The Castleton Files)

Short Stories

Story titles with an asterisk (*) are also available as separate stand-alone ebooks and/or chapbooks. The stories are shown in the order in which they appear in my various collections.

Dark Higways: Five Road Trips into Terror

  • Companion

Darker Corridors (Coming Soon)

Night Writing

  • All Over Your Face
  • A Deeper Level
  • Fifteen Minutes
  • A Pleasure to Burn
  • That Enveloping Darkness
  • The Night Darwin Corso Left Green River
  • The Night We Killed Howie’s Uncle
  • Those Who Can, Help
  • Shadows and Ice
  • Ghost Vigil

The Road to Gray Lake

  • Stuckey Makes a Sale

Shadows, Whispers, Shivers

Short Green River Crime Novels by Daryl Burns

  • Weed
  • Meth (Coming Soon)