Weird Conversations At 1:20am

This is one of those blog posts that is going to enter very weird territory before it’s finished… But then that’s what happens when people have conversations when neither one of them is entirely awake.

On the subject of bomb warnings…

If you grew up in England during a particular time, you might have lived with the potential threat of bombs going off in some of the big cities. If that’s the case, then you may have seen posters similar to this one in any number of places.

I remember seeing any number of posters reminding people to keep their eyes open for packages, suitcases, bags, or other unattended. They were a constant reminder that there was always the potential for one of those items to be a bomb. Some went so far as to remind you not to approach the item, but contact the police instead.

Warnings turn to humor…

After a while, I started seeing graffiti that took the warning, and added humor. But not before I’d already had the conversation with some friends in the early hours of the morning…

Now this was before the internet had become an invasive part of our lives. It was also way before people turned such things into viral memes, that would spread like wildfire.

And then turn into the unexpectedly bizarre…

Now my wife is very much aware of these conversations, and just how strange my mind is at times. But last night, we were talking about something (I can’t for the life of me remember what), but I turned to her and said “Be alert”, and she came back with a reply that left me speechless and laughing, because it was so unexpected.

I jumped out of bed, wrote it down in my journal, with the lights off, in the dark, and could still somehow read it this morning. So I couldn’t help but turn it into a poster. And for what it’s worth “I’m sorry” and “You’re Welcome”

Do you have any bizzare late night (or any other time) conversations you want to share?

Feel free to drop them in the comments below and I’ll share the best responses in a future post!

 

 

Authors Talk About It! and Me

If you’re a member of my newsletter, then you’ve already heard that I’ve been busy getting interviewed for a number of different blogs.

Well one of those blogs is over at the “Authors Talk About It” site run by the amazing Rob and Janelle Alex. This husband and wife team are pod-casters, marketers and branding experts, with years of experience behind them. They host book competitions, offer editing assistance, book critiques, and help indie authors to shape their bios.

I had the pleasure of being selected for a featured author interview. I had a lot of fun sitting down and going through these questions. Some of them were the kind of questions you see on almost all author interviews, but others really made me stop and think. Go check it out!


My newsletter is the place to get my weekly blog post round-up, book release news, and more… Join now and get the first chapter of “Under A Hunter’s Moon” for free!

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?

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…