Weighing in on the 13th Doctor Announcement

If you’ve been hiding under a rock lately, you might not have seen all the recent Doctor Who posts on social media.

This is what the fuss has been all about…

And here’s the news from the BBC themselves…

So What Do Fans Think?

Reactions from fans have been very mixed. I’ve seeing every kind of response from “Best idea ever” to “Worst mistake ever”.  Personally I’m excited to see what comes from this.

It’s obvious to me that that BBC has been building up to having a female Doctor for some time. Even the shows creators had suggested the possibility to the BBC controllers back in the 80s.

Even more interestingly, the last couple of seasons have teased the possibility of the Doctor becoming female, one day.

  • In “The Doctor’s Wife” Neil Gaiman wrote a line that more than suggested that the Time Lords can change sex
  • Then there was the Time Lord who regenerated from male to female on screen
  • The Master became Missy, and we’ve still yet to see how that resolves itself
  • And finally the seemingly throw-away line about the future being “all female”

To say I saw this coming so soon would be a lie, but it’s definitely something I’ve been hoping for.

Looking Foward…

Unlike with David Tennant, I’ve not seen Jodie Whittaker in anything, so I’m not going to be going into this with any preconceived ideas of what to expect. So I’m ready to see what the Christmas Special brings, and how Chris Chibnall handles transitioning into the role of show runner, and the switch over from Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker.

The one thing that is certain is that the dynamic between the Doctor and Bill is going to change, and things could potentially get very interesting.

Whatever happens it can’t be as rough a transition we had from Peter Davison to Colin Baker…

Thoughts On Independence

For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, today is Independence Day here in the US, and I’m experiencing it as an American citizen for the first time. Rather than go through the history of how I went from being a British citizen to an American, I’ve spent the last week trying to find quotes that typify how I see my new country.

I was lucky enough to come across this one from ‘Eddie’ Rickenbacker…

Here’s how Wikipedia describes ‘Eddie’ Rickenbacker…

Edward Vernon Rickenbacker (October 8, 1890 – July 23, 1973) was an Americanfighter ace in World War I and Medal of Honor recipient. With 26 aerial victories, he was America’s most successful fighter ace in the war. He was also considered to have won the most awards for valor by an American during the war according to the April 2017 VFW magazine in their special World War I edition.

He was also a race car driver and automotive designer, a government consultant in military matters and a pioneer in air transportation, particularly as the longtime head of Eastern Air Lines.

For the full article, click here. I recommend taking a look at the full article, because it covers the life of someone who fought for the rights and freedoms that we enjoy today.

It is because of people like ‘Eddie’ Rickenbacker that we can enjoy the independence that so many have fought for.

Here’s my challenge to you all:

  • Take the initiative to live your lives your way.
  • Have the imagination to believe that whatever you desire is possible
  • Explore and thrive in your individuality
  • And have the independence to be yourself, no matter what others think

Feel Free To Comment Below:

I’d love to hear from those of you reading this.

How did you spend your Independence Day?

Do you have thoughts on what has shaped America since it’s independence?

Which of my challenges will you be taking up? And what plans do you have for meeting that challenge?

Why Writer Communities Matter

For my birthday last year, I gave myself one of the weirdest presents someone can give themselves.

I published my first self-published book, “Under A Hunter’s Moon”. I so desperately wanted to get the release right that I went on a desperate hunt for a cheap cover artist, and put together my advertising. At this point, a family matter came up, that meant I had to go out of state and I’d either have to cancel my book launch, or push it back.

I went online to the writer communities to get some advice on which route to take, and was amazed by the responses I got.

Fellow Indie Writers To The Rescue

Those of you who’ve followed me for a while know that I belong to several online writer groups, and have done, since before “Under A Hunter’s Moon” was first released, as part of an anthology.

But, you might not know just how generous indie authors can be to one another.

My request for advice turned into a flurry of discussions, and out of those I got sent a cover image for “Under A Hunter’s Moon” by a paranormal romance author I’ve beta read for.

I also received a lot of advice on doing a ‘low-maintenance’ release, which would get the book launched on Amazon, and advertised on a few author blogs, newsletters, and more. Along with the advice came offers to host posts related to the launch, and promises to share the information.

I Can’t Thank My Fellow Indie Writers Enough…

I was speechless. As thanks to those involved in the launch, I sent out a few copies of the book, and set the price to free for the weekend of my birthday. It did reasonably well, but wasn’t a huge seller.

And Now We’re A Year On…

I’m planning to start ramping up the rate at which I release books, and that means being able to get book covers in place for the stories I’ve already completed.

You probably already saw last week’s “Anatomy of a Cover” post, on how I created the cover for “Evaline Trascendent”. That cover design came about, because I got a lot of feedback from fellow indie authors. I posted a draft image on several groups, and asked for comments.

Not only did I get a much better book cover as a result, but I got several ideas on how to make more of my own covers for planned releases.

But it wasn’t the new releases that concerned me, it was the lack of reviews for “Under A Hunter’s Moon”.

So, I thought I’d try something….

I touched base with some of the author groups, and asked for volunteers to read, review, and provide feedback on “Under A Hunter’s Moon”. And several volunteers stepped forward.

And Huge Thanks To Rebekah Jonesy…

I sent a free copy of “Under A Hunter’s Moon” to Rebekah Jonesy, among others, and she read it in a single sitting.

Then on Facebook chat, Rebekah sent me her feedback, which included some corrections that had somehow been missed by me, my wife, two editors, and everyone else who’d read the story.

And So It’s Time For The “Anniversary Update”

Along with the corrections from Rebekah, I decided to go ahead and update the cover too.

There were several reasons for this, but mostly, it’s so that I can use whatever images I want on future covers, and have features that unite the series.

So, go ahead, and buy your updated copy of “Under A Hunter’s Moon”, if you don’t already own one.

(If you already own a copy, Kindle should automatically update it, when the new version goes live.)

And if you enjoy reading “Under A Hunter’s Moon” check out “April Fool”, which appeared in this year’s “Book Dreams” anthology from Brain to Books.

Anatomy Of A Book Cover “Evaline Transcendent

This is not going to be my usual Midweek Mumbles ramblings. Instead I’m going to do something a little different, and give you a behind-the-scenes look at some of the steps involved in creating my first book cover design.

How I Made My Last Cover

When I published “Under A Hunter’s Moon”, I had a lot of help with the cover design. Ariel Marie was kind enough to Photoshop the components for me, and all I did was do the type-setting for the text.

What Makes This Time Different?

The cover for “Evaline Transcendent” is a much more interesting journey, because it’s a science fiction story, and there are very few stock photos that could be tweaked to work for what I had in mind.

I wanted to invoke the sci-fi genre right from the start, so setting the cover in one of the ship’s corridor was always part of my plan. The representation of the main character, Evaline, was a more difficult decision for a number of reasons:

  • This is re-release of a story that was originally published in an anthology.
  • Since that release, I’ve been interested in updating it with ideas that didn’t make the original draft.
  • I also wanted to represent Evaline in some way, but in the original story she was only a disembodied voice.
  • To give her more presence that meant either putting an image on a computer screen, or creating a holographic presence, which was not originally in the story.

Was There A Way To Do What I Wanted?

After looking at some ideas for cover designs, I decided to go with a sci-fi corridor with a holographic figure to represent Evaline herself.

Having previously used 3D software, specifically Daz3D,I was already familiar with what was possible with the right tools at my disposal. I did a search through the database of 3D models available, and found a sci-fi corridor that looked matched my list of requirements. Then I took the base female figure and a basic pose and put her into the scene.

After some tweaking, I clothed her in a skin-tight outfit, which had sections I could hide, and then bought a shader that allowed me to turn the textures into holograms.

Once the image was rendered, I transferred it into Canva and overlaid it on a background color, before adding the title and author text.

And here was the first attempt, but there were several issues…

  • The text fonts didn’t match up very well
  • The pose was a little problematic, and too ‘sexy’ for my tastes
  • The presence of the background frame didn’t mesh well the current trends in sci-fi cover designs
  • I wasn’t keen on the colors or the outfit
  • Because of the 3d models, outfits, and tricks I’d used to build this particular hologram I didn’t have a lot of control over how it rendered
  • I also didn’t have any way to adjust the placement of the figure within the final image

So I Sought Help From Fellow Authors..

I approached some authors I’ve worked with in the past, so I could get some ideas of ways we could try and fix the issues. And once I got some feedback, I dove deeper into to capabilities of the 3D software, and online forums, in the hopes of figuring out the solutions. And here’s the result…

I think you’ll agree this is a much better cover. It was created in several steps…

  1. Setup the scene, with the figure in place, posed, and clothed in single color clothing.
  2. Light the entire scene.
  3. Render the corridor background, with the lighting effects already in place.
  4. Hide the figure and clothing.
  5. Render the corridor background.
  6. Remove the corridor and place the figure against a black background.
  7. Set all the clothing colors to solid black, and render the visible flesh areas and hair
  8. Set the figure and hair to black
  9. Add a digital opacity layer to clothing and set the colors
  10. Render just the clothing
  11. Import the individual layers into GIMP2 for editing.

How The Layers Stacked Up…

  • Layer 1 – Background (Mode=Normal, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 2 – Flesh #1 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 3 – Flesh #2 (Mode=Dodge, Opacity=40%)
  • Layer 4 – Flesh #3 (Mode=Lighten Only, Opacity 100%)
  • Layer 5 – Flesh #4 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 6 – Leggings #1 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 7 – Leggings #2 (Mode=Dodge, Opacity=40%)
  • Layer 8 – Leggings #3 (Mode=Lighten Only, Opacity 100%)
  • Layer 9 – Leggings #4 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 10 – Top & Shoes #1 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)
  • Layer 11 – Top & Shoes #2 (Mode=Dodge, Opacity=40%)
  • Layer 12 – Top & Shoes #3 (Mode=Lighten Only, Opacity 100%)
  • Layer 13 – Top & Shoes #4 (Mode=Addition, Opacity=100%)

As you can see, that’s a lot of layers… And that was all before I pulled the image into Canva and added the text layers.

So here’s a look at the images that went to the cover…

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And that folks, is how I wasted three weeks of writing and editing time…

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the covers, or even my methods of creating them. Post in the comments below, or email me at timothy.bateson.author@gmail.com

Oh, and just between us… “Evaline Transcendent” will soon be available in the Kindle store… Once I’ve gone through some final edits, and finalized my revisions to the original story. There are aspects of the original story I wasn’t happy with, and plot points I wanted to update.

Humpbacks Or Bust!!! (A Vacation Special)

First of all, sorry this post is late, but I’m sure you’ll appreciate the reason why, after reading the post itself.

Sandi and I just got back from a three day trip to the Kenai Peninsula, where we took a one-day cruise out of Seward. We’d booked this trip a couple of months ago, because we heard this time of year was a good time to see Humpback Whales. Now, we’d not seen these magnificent creatures on previous cruises, because of the time of year we’d traveled.

With this trip being a late wedding anniversary, and early birthday present to ourselves, we set off with high hopes of seeing at least some of the wildlife. We were particularly interested in seeing the Humpbacks, because people had told us that they’d seen them from the Sealife Center which lies on the shores of Resurrection Bay.

So, instead of my usual ramblings, here’s some highlights from our trip…

June 12th 2017

Alaska Wildlife Conversation Center

Sandi and I have been down to Seward previously, but this was the first time we’d heard about the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. It lies on the same stretch of highway as the turn off for Portage Glacier, and if it hadn’t been for a couple of people mentioning it, we’d probably not have even spotted the signs from the highway.

I have to say that this was a fantastic start to our wildlife viewing, with playful brown bears, porcupines, moose, reindeer, wood bison, sleepy wolves, a black bear cub, and a pair of resident raptors. Almost all of the animals housed at the center are orphaned or injured in the wild, and are being treated or rehabilitated.

Unfortunately, some of the animals are too injured to be released back into the wild, and have become permanent residents. One of the finest examples of this is Adonis, a Bald Eagle who has been at the center since he was shot and had to have one entire wing amputated.

Located: Mile 79, Seward Highway, Portage, Alaska

How to find out more: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Van Gilder Hotel

This amazing hotel is listed as an historic building, and as you approach it on foot, you can see why. The exterior of the hotel, and the theater next door speak to the age of the buildings, and the hotel interior continues this theme.

As you walk into the office, to book in, there is a huge wooden counter space, with a mirror behind it. Old lamps light the room, and a well-loved piano sits in one corner between the windows. Danny greeted us at the check in desk, with a smile, and walked us through the process of checking in, and even gave us the option of upgrading from a room with a shared bathroom to a double room with an amazing view over the town and Resurrection Bay.

Of course, we decided to upgrade, and the room was more than worth what we paid. A comfortable bed, connecting door to the second bedroom, and a view that I can’t even begin to describe. The fact that we were in the heart of town, and a stones throw from the heritage center, sealife center, and a great restaurant that made great pizza was a huge bonus.

Sure we had a couple of small problems, but Danny was more than happy to take care of them, and even took care to do so while we were out. This consideration made us feel appreciated, and we’ll definitely be looking to check in with them again on our next trip, especially in light of Danny’s local knowledge.

Before we left, Danny had already established that we love history, and brought out pages from the old check-in ledgers to show us. As I was flipping through the pages, we talked a little about the town, and some of the hotel’s history. But what really blew me away was when he offered to let us keep one of the pages, and allowed us to take one that had Sandi’s birthday. It shows that Danny cares not only about his hotel, and the history, but it’s guests too.

The hotel could use an influx of cash, because there are aspects of the hotel that need attention. It would be a shame to see this hotel fall into disrepair, because it is an awesome place to stay, and almost everything in town is within walking distance.

Located: 307 Adams Street, Seward, Alaska

How to find out more: Wikipedia

Alaska Sealife Center – Seward Alaska (population about 2,500)

This is one of the gems of Seward, especially for anyone who loves to see animals up close. The staff were very friendly, and knowledgeable about the animals in their care, as well as passionate about their favorites.

While it was fun being able to see the fish, corals, and other sea creatures up close, the highlights were definitely the sea otters, sea lion, and aviary. There is nothing like seeing a massive sea lion just the other side of the glass, to give you an idea of how huge these creatures are.

Once we reached the aviary, I was expecting to be watching the birds from behind netting, or glass… But instead was greeted by a gull flying right over our heads. And this wasn’t even the closest we got… Sitting right up on the lip of the glass walls were a variety of birds that we were to see on the marine cruise the next day. Not one of them was more than seemed afraid to be close to us, or the other visitors, but we were in the presence of two staff members the birds were very familiar with.

This was our second visit to the center, and it never fails to deliver on it’s promise of being fun, interactive and educational.

Located: 301 Railway Avenue, Seward, Alaska

How to find out more: Website, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn

June 13th 2017

The Major Marines 7.5 Hour Tour

Major Marine had a good selection of tour options, and this is one of the longest tours offered, leaving the docks at 10am, and arriving back around 5:30pm. But there isn’t a single moment of the trip that isn’t filled with amazing landscapes, or animal sightings.

During the course of the trip we pulled in close to three glaciers, and saw more wildlife than I could ever have expected. To do this day justice, here’s some numbers:

A Tally Of Our Sightings (not including sea birds)

  • 10:00 – Departure
  • 10:15 – Sea Otters (2)
  • 10:45 – Mountain Goats (3)
  • 10:55 – Humpback Whales (2 – not that I actually managed to see them on this occasion)
  • 11:05 – Humpback Whales (2)
  • 11:10 – Bald Eagles (2)
  • 14:15 – Harbor Seals (38 – approximately, because I lost count)
  • 15:25 – Bald Eagles (2)
  • 15:30 – Humpback Whales (1)
  • 15:45 – Stellar Sealions(2)
  • 16:00 – Stellar Sealions (47 approximately, including some disagreement between bulls)
  • 16:20 – Orcas (6)
  • 17:30 – Returned to Port

A Summary Of The Tour

I can’t thank Captian Josh, the crew of the Glacier Express, or Ranger Deanna enough for an enjoyable cruise. Throughout the entire time they were very informative and attentive to the passengers. It was very obvious that these folks are passionate about what they do, and that they love doing it.

Sandi and I learned a lot about the area, the wildlife, and the history from the commentaries, and chats we had with the crew. At no time did the ship feel cramped, because the decks were open plan, with tables and assigned seating, and vast windows that provided spectacular 360 degree views.

For me, it’s this last factor that proved important, because there were times when I was able to spot something from inside, while taking a break from the chill of being out on outdoor decks. Of course that was enough to send me or Sandi back out into the cold, for photograph or video opportunities.

Even when we got back to port, the staff at the booking offices were exceptional, and it was very clear that they love passing on viewing tips, and their passion.

How to find out more: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Website

July 14th 2017

The dream ends, but the memories remain!

We had a lazy morning, and checked out of the Van Gilder with plans no more exciting than getting back home, doing some shopping, and doing a couple of loads of laundry. Then Thursday it’ll be time to return to work, with the adventure behind us.

Some Of Those Memories…

Reflections On The Terror Attacks In England

I’m not normally one to jump on the news, and comment on it openly. Anyone who follows my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media accounts will see that they remain clear of such things, for the most part. However, this last week has seen the second terror attack on London, in recent months, and I can’t help reflecting on how it affects people.

My heart and prayers go out to the friends, families, and victims of those who have been affected by these blatant acts of terrorism. Even though many of those affected by the attacks grew up with IRA activities as a fact of life, these recent attacks will leave physical and emotional scars that are hard to hide.

For my part, I’m here in Alaska watching the news very closely, and checking in with friends and family back in England whenever I can. Having been born British, and leaving everyone behind when I came to Alaska to marry an American, I can’t help but be concerned by the things I see in the news. And, so far this year, we’ve seen three major attacks…

Attack #1 – March 22nd 2017

  • Location: Westminster, London
  • Casualties: 50 people were injured, and 6 killed
  • A lone driver mounts the curb on Westminster Bridge, and drove through the crowd, then continued on toward Parliament before abandoning the vehicle and attacking people with a knife. He was shot dead by police less than 90 seconds after the attack started.

Attack #2 – May 22nd 2017

  • Location: Manchester Arena, Manchester
  • Casualties: 116 people were injured, and 22 killed
  • Suicide bomber detonated a home-made bomb in the foyer as fans were leaving a concert.

Attack #3 – 3rd June 2017

  • Location: London Bridge & Borough Market, London
  • Casualties: 48 people were injured, and 7 killed
  • A white van drove into pedestrians on London Bridge before three attackers got out of the vehicle and ran into Borough Market, where they stabbed several people, before escaping back into the street where all three were shot dead by police.

Investigations Are Ongoing…

That’s three major attacks in four months, and police are still investigating each of the incidents thoroughly. To date several arrests have been made in connection with the attacks, and time will tell how things move forward from here.

But there’s one thing I know for a fact…

Despite these attacks, it’s just going to bring people closer together…

How Do I Know This?

  • London, and other parts of the UK are no strangers to terrorist attacks, and bombings
  • During World War 2, German bombs fell on London, and other parts of the country on a regular basis.
    • Bombers flew over the cities and dropped tons of bombs in lightning raids
    • the dreaded V-1 flying bombs (aka the buzz bomb or doodlebug) which dropped out of the sky when their noisy motors ran out of fuel
    • the V-2 missile was the first true long range guided ballistic missile
  • When I was growing up, attacks by the IRA (and assorted splinter groups) were a fact of. Bombs went off, people were attacked, and attempts were made to bring down Canary Wharf.

What Happened As A Result?

During the war, and the terror attacks that came later, people refused to let those responsible change their lives more than necessary. During the war, they banded together in bomb shelters, and told stories to keep each other company and pass the time.

When I was growing up, I didn’t let the possibility of an IRA attack deter me from going into the city of London. Even in my mid-teens I’d go into the city on my own to visit museums, stores or the libraries. Sure, I was aware of the possibility of an attack happening, but even then I believed that if we let terrorists dictate our choices, then they had achieved their goals. And I wasn’t going to let that happen, but I did watch out of suspicious packages and activities just in case.

And It’s Happening Again!

In all of the cases above, including the attacks that took place this year, it brought people together.

Now this is the important take-away from all of this, and does nothing to detract from the horrors that people went through. But, people came together to help each other.

  • They came together to help the police and emergency services deal with the situations.
  • Photos and video have been given up for evidence willingly.
  • Witnesses and victims alike have given statements
  • Investigations have been started, and further arrests made in connection with the events.
  • Common people have proved to be heroes

But most importantly, they have stepped up, and proved that no matter who claims responsibility for the attacks, Brits are nothing if not stubborn, resilient, and will not bow down to terrorists.

For my part, I’m proud to have been born British!

“Under A Hunter’s Moon” – Get The First Chapter Of This Urban Fantasy For Free!

Cover and blurb for the "Under A Hunter's Moon" - The first short story in the "Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels" Urban Fantasy series.

More about “Under A Hunter’s Moon”

  • Length:About 4,200 words
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Setting: Seattle and the surrounding area
  • Series: “Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels”

Why am I offering the first chapter for free?

I have written several stories in the “Prequels” series, which are great introductions to the “Shadows Over Seattle” world. Three years ago, this story was featured in “Moon Shadows” and saw my debut as a published author, and remains very close to my heart. I’m also planning to release at least one or two more short stories over the coming months, as I continue to work on the first full novel in the “Shadows Over Seattle” series.

We’re also coming up on my birthday, and the first anniversary of this story being published under the “Shadows Over Seattle” banner. So, for the anniversary of the release I’m giving everyone a chance to try before they buy.

After all, I don’t know about you, but when I’m shopping for books in the store, I tend to read the first few pages to see if the book fits my tastes. Sure, I’ve had some very pleasant surprises when opening a book I’ve not tried reading first, but I still prefer to sample.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a comments from the reviewers…

Here’s what reviewers have had to say:

“I love the dark view taken but also the unique point of view that makes you want to care for the dark creatures.”

“If you like wolves, if you like werewolves, if you like that whole conflict of humanity, and conflict within yourself, you’re gonna love this book.”

“An amazing take on Lycans. I love the dark view taken but also the unique point of view that makes you want to care for the dark creatures.”

“There is that conflict that is driven into the story. That beautiful arc that starts off so well… that builds up to a beautiful crescendo, and then just drops you, and your heart is going to drop when it’s time for it. And you’re going to feel it. You’re going to feel the protagonist’s pain. You’re going to feel everything.”

Get the first chapter of the story for free… Click Here!