Return of the Newsletter

Yep, you read that right. I’m bringing back something that has gone neglected for far too long, my newsletter emails.

What happened to the newsletter anyway?

Back in 2015, I tried to start up a regular newsletter, with people subscribing to receive updates and book news by email. Well, needless to say I got very mixed results, because I really had no idea how to go about running a newsletter, and I had very little to say.

It didn’t help that between changes at Gmail, and alterations to the services offered by the site I sent the newsletter from, emails were likely ending up in people’s spam folders instead of being delivered. Now remember, everyone on that list had already confirmed they wanted to hear from me, but the open rate dropped considerably, and I lost interest in continuing the newsletter.

What changed?

It all started when I began putting together the events for the Brain to Books Fantasy Genre events, and needed a way to keep in touch with authors who were participating. All of the authors needed to receive the same email, and some of them needed to receive event-specific emails, and so was born a new mailing list.

Through careful planning of the events, and working out ways to send specific emails to the relevant authors, I got a feel for how the newsletters could work. Fast forward a few days, and I come across a service that did what my old one did, but came with the bonus of many of the features I needed being free.

So, I started looking into the details, and wondered if I could get my newsletter back off the ground. And thankfully, there were a number of people who’d already expressed an interest in hearing more from me, after they had completed the Brain to Books Fantasy “First Lines” Scavenger Hunt event.

I had a ready-made list of new people who actually wanted to know more… hmmm… but what to send them?

Well, I was already updating my graphics for my social media sites, so why not try something new with the newsletter. I created some new graphics to us as headers…

And here’s what went out…

Actually, the answer to this question wasn’t a simple one.

In my first email to you, I promised to give you some background information on my favorite lupine (werewolf), Richard Parsons. And then I realized just how hasty I’d been in making that promise.

You see, when you’ve been writing about a character for the best part of eight years, they undergo a kind of metamorphosis. Initially, what you have is a very basic idea of the character, some broad personality traits, and maybe a rough idea of what they look like.

Then you sit down and start writing, and things change. In Richard’s case, they changed a lot. Which meant making sure what you got was actually representative of Richard as he turned out.

So, I dove through my piles of notes, website pages, story outlines, finalized stories, and everything I’d shared with others, and discovered the ideal way to introduce Richard…

Read “A Fireside Chat with Richard Parsons” by A.F. Stewart & Timothy Bateson

Find out who Richard is connected to…

There is a lot of other information about Richard, and the other characters in the “Shadows Over Seattle” series, over on my website.

Now, it’s a little sparse compared to the depth of information that Sandi and I have created over the years of creating this series.

So, here’s an open invitation to find out more.

  • Keep following these emails, my blog, and the website for information as it’s posted…
  • Or, drop me an email, and let me know what you’d like to know more about, and find out information before anyone else.
  • Just don’t expect too much in the way of spoilers…

Join The Conversation

Now, it may look like I’m just giving away a bunch of links to material that I’ve already put out there, and that’s true.. For now!

I want the newsletter to be more than a rehashing of old material. I want to turn it into a way for people to be part of the conversations that go on behind the scenes.

By subscribing, you’re going to have access to me as a writer, and be in a position to ask me questions, show what projects most interest you, and maybe even influence some of my writing. You see, I know that I don’t know everything, so if you have knowledge that might be relevant to one of my projects, I might just be asking you questions too…

You’ll also receive updates from my blog, so you’ll never have to miss a single post, unless you want to.

As time goes on, I might expand the newsletter to include other things, like reviews of books I’ve recently read, or reviewed in the past. Of course, if I hear enough people want to see something, I will definitely try to include it.

10 Things Your Mother Never Told You About: Fae (Shadows Over Seattle – 1st Looks)

Back at the start of last year, I posted a racial genealogy of the races in the “Shadows Over Seattle” setting. It is still one of the posts that I’m proudest of, because of the way I was able to represent some very abstract thoughts in a coherent infographic. Since then, Sandi and I have put a lot more work into creating the actual histories that are represented in the chart.

Today’s post is about the fae races.

10 Things Your Mother Never Told You About: Fae

  1. Fae almost never discuss the origins of their species, only saying admitting that they are ancient
  2. It is known that the fae pre-date the origins of the human race, possibly by hundreds of thousands of years
  3. There are three councils of fae: Wyld, Seelie and Unseelie
  4. None of the fae will explain the differences between the councils
  5. All ancient fae belong to one of the councils, though it is unclear how membership to a council is determined
  6. Supernatural experts have determined that fae are capable of shape-shifting all the way down to the cellular level, and able to take any form
  7. After the advent of modern hominids, a ‘second-generation’ of fae arose, who broke away from the ancient councils
  8. At some point after the first mortals walked the earth, they started cross-breeding with the second-generation fae, giving rise to the Great Wizards, Shape-shifters and other species
  9. The more human blood a supernatural species carries, the less power they have relative to their fae origins
  10. The weaker the fae portion of the bloodline, the less likely it is that a supernatural’s children will inherit the powers of their parents

So, now you know a few things about the fae. Some of them may even be true.

To find out what s fact, and what the far have made up, check out the “Shadows Over Seattle” stories

B2BCyCon2017, Scavenger Hunts, and Publicity Hounds

A Round-Up of the Weekend

The B2BCyCon event is at an end, but the fun isn’t over, and I’m left wondering what’s happening next.

After spending the best part of two months coordinating over seventy authors, putting together scavenger hunt quizzes, arranging genre tours, and fighting technical issues that could have derailed my planned discussion panels, I’m finding myself with a lot of spare time all of a sudden.

But, that’s not going to stop me working on the post-event activities that will help me get stuff ready for next year, and improve on what we did as a genre.

Things That Went Right:

  • We ran THREE very successful discussion panels, (despite some technical issues on my end). I’d like to thank everyone who took part, either as a panelist, or watched from the sidelines, and commented in the chat. Those videos are still available.
  • The Scavenger Hunt has received a LOT of very POSITIVE feedback. See the breakdown below for some interesting stats.
  • I saw a lot of our genre members interacting with the readers, and other writers, which was great to see, especially from those new to the event.
  • For those of you who took part in live events, discussions, or dropped in to see me fumble my way through running discussion panels for the first time… THANK YOU! This is one of the reasons I keep coming back to do these events, and why I volunteered to do so much behind-the-scenes work this year.
  • Brain to Books launched it’s first anthology collection, with stories provided by participating authors – including “April Fool (Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels #0.5)”. The proceeds from “Book Dreams: Volume 1” will be funneled back into funding the 2018 CyCon.
  • We were BY FAR the BIGGEST genre at the event, and event though I didn’t manage to reach EVERYONE, I think we all learned a lot along the way.

Things That Went Wrong:

  • For me, it was technical problems on Sunday, that almost canceled the last of the discussion panels.
  • Also, I should NEVER send emails when I’m tired, especially without checking that I changed everything I needed to.
  • The biggest thing we’re looking at behind-the-scenes, for next year, is ways to clean up communication channels, and better represent the various events being run.

The Scavenger Hunt – A Breakdown

The First Lines Scavenger Hunt has apparently been a success on a number of levels. Even though it’s still running until Saturday, I thought I’d give you a breakdown of the stats so far (as of 4/10/17).

  • We had 77 Visitors
  • 13 of those visitors completed the whole quiz
  • The average completion time was 40 minutes, meaning people spent time actually visiting the book pages
  • Of those who completed the quiz, only 2 got a wrong answer (and ONLY one wrong). I’ll NOT be disqualifying them from the prize draw as a result of this, because right answers was never really the goal.
  • 9 of the 13 have agreed to signup for newsletters from the participating authors.
  • On a 1-to-10 scale, 9 people rated this quiz a 10, 1 rated it a 9, 2 rated it a 6, and 1 rated it a 4. From my perspective that means we had an enjoyable quiz, in a format that people found interesting enough to do again.

So in conclusion, I would DEFINITELY run this event again, even if we don’t get any more participation. That said, PLEASE feel free to pass the word around that the quiz is still running, and will close on Saturday night. Here’s the link: https://timothybatesonauthor.typeform.com/to/tshdCP

It Gets Better…

Even more interestingly though… This little quiz drew very positive comments from someone I have followed for a while, and whose opinion I trust. Joan Stewart (AKA The Publicity Hound) is a blogger, publicity consultant, and mentor, who has helped a lot of small businesses and self-published authors become better at marketing what they do, and who they are.

The Publicity Hound puts out a twice-weekly email, with tips, blog posts, videos, training classes and dog videos. In Tuesday’s edition of her email, there was a section on using quizzes as a means to get people’s attention, along with an invitation to have a quiz featured in her blog.

Well, I sent out the information about the Scavenger Hunt quiz, along with a link, and Ms Stewart was very interested in featuring it. I’m very excited by this development, not just because the quiz was really an interesting experiment, but because The Publicity Hound emails and blog posts go out to a massive audience.

We are just discussing some final details, and I’ll post the link if/when it goes live on her blog.

Some Thoughts From Other Participating Authors

Here are some thoughts from other B2BCyCon participating authors:

If you took part in the Cyber Convention, either as a reader, or as an author, I’d love to hear your impressions in the comments.

And here’s those discussion panels for you…


Seattle: Through The Eyes Of A Fantasy Writer (pt 5)

This is part five of my Seattle trip, and we’re heading into the end of day 2. If you missed part 1, you can find it here, and part 2 is here, part 3 is here, part 4 is here.

So far my wife Sandi, and I have arrived in Seattle in the early hours of the morning, caught sunrise over the city at Gasworks Park, and taken a lot of pictures. Then we headed up to the University District, before booking into our hotel, and hitting up Treehouse Point and Snoqualmie Falls. Then we made our way up onto Cougar Mountain, and back to the hotel to crash for the night.

Day two started with a visit to Fremont to see The Fremont Troll, the Center of the Universe Signpost, and then a trip south to Kerry Park. Once the scenic photos had been taken, we made our way to the Space Needle, took a tour of the city on an amphibious vehicle, and then drove down to the Columbia Center.

For a sneak peek of what I had planned for the three days you can click here.

Feb 14th 2017 – Driving Around & Some Much Needed Downtime

Even after taking the trip up the Columbia Center tower, we had some time to kill, before our next planned stop.

So, Sandi and I drove around Capitol Hill, First Hill, and Squire Park, trying to locate a church that Sandi had used as a template for one in her draft for “A Rose By Any Other Name”. I drove, while she looked up churches on her cell phone, and tried to direct me to them. After a couple of wrong turns, and changes of destination, we finally arrived at St James Cathedral.

I let Sandi out, so I could go hunt down a parking space, and she made her way inside. While there she asked permission to take some reference pictures, under the understanding that they would not be shared online or used to make money. With that in mind, I’m respecting that, and not sharing them here. Even more interesting was the chat Sandi had with one of the pastors about her work, and the churches views on vampires and other supernatural creatures we write about. (And yes, we’re withholding the outcome of that discussion, because it impacts a key scene in “A Rose By Any Other Name”).

In all that time of driving around, I found I was already familiar with many of the streets, and intersections, from hours of wandering around on Google Maps. It was funny watching Sandi’s reactions when I’d point at something and say something along the lines of “There’s where Richard chases the vampire” or “Hmmm, I didn’t realize just how steep this hill was. I’ll have to change that scene”. Admittedly, you don’t get a “feel” for the locations until you’re actually there, but being able to navigate just based on online time is still a lot of fun.

Our next stop was north of the city, near Bitter Lake, where we hooked up with a couple of friends I knew from online, and Sandi knew from her time living in the Seattle area. This was a lot of fun, because everyone was either a writer, a role-player, or both, and it gave us a lot of things to talk about. It also gave Sandi and I a really great opportunity to wind down from a couple of very hectic days of flying, driving, and rushing between stops to see everything we wanted to.

Feb 14th 2017 – The Space Needle (visit #2)

Having decompressed a little, we parted ways with our friends, and returned to the Space Needle.

Now, if you read part four of this series, you already know about the Space Needle, and how impressed I was by it. But that was nothing compared to seeing it all lit up for the night.

Approaching the structure from the parking lot, it’s impossible to miss, and can be seen for miles along any clear line of sight. Because we’d already booked our tickets for the second trip up, we headed straight for the elevators, and were back up the top for another run photographs.

And this time, the views were even more spectacular than during the day. We were able to capture some amazing pictures where the city lights are reflected in the waters of the bay. In some of the shots, the only way to tell where the city ended and where the bay started was from the distortions caused by ripples on the water. Other shots were typical high-angle shots of the city at night, showing buildings and streets lit up, with vehicles heading to who knows what destinations.

Since this was our last stop for the day, we headed back to the hotel to decompress, and make plans for the following day. But honestly, the last day was going to be an was one, because we really hadn’t made many plans.

Feb 15th 2017 – Seattle Aquarium

This was one of the stops that we’d scheduled for another day, but ended up moving so that we had time to do the Ride the Ducks. And I’ll be honest, I’m glad we did that, because it gave us the time to actually see the Aquarium and all the wonderful creatures.

We arrived with just enough time to wander around part of the ‘touch and feel’ exhibits, before they announced that the seal show would be starting shortly.

Now I’m a sucker for almost any kind of fuzzy sea creature, so having a chance to see the seals in action, and get some photos was an opportunity not to be missed. So much so, that Sandi and I took turns with the camera, and even stood outside in the torrential Seattle rain, while taking pictures.

From there we took in the sea otters, river otters, and assorted fish displays, all the while snapping pictures and pointing out things we wanted to share with each other.

In all, this was a very fun and relaxing way to start the last day of our trip, even if we were subjected to the finest rains Seattle could summon.

Feb 15th 2017 – Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

After spending a couple of hours touring the Aquarium, we had just enough left on the parking to do a little shopping. So, we headed along the shoreline, and checked out a few of the stores and eateries. While we didn’t find anything to eat that we could both agree on, we did find Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, one of the most fascinating places to browse.

Carrying everything from souveniers to locally made fudge, this store has been open, in one location, or another, since 1899.

How has it managed to stay open so long, and become one of the most sought out stores in Seattle? The answer is both simple and elegant at the same time.

When it originally opened, the store carried curios and souvenirs for travelers using the docks. But over the years it has become part museum in the process. With artifacts like their mummies, shrunken heads, mermaids, origami dollars and walrus tusks, it’s hard not to be fascinated by the displays as much as the variety of goods they carry.

And Then We Left Seattle Behind

After considering a trip to the Pike Place Market, we decided to head for the airport, and get a meal inside us before flying home.


Well, that concludes the trip to Seattle, and I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with me for some of the highlights. Be sure to check out some of the places next time you’re down there.

If you have any travel tips, or think we missed seeing something that really should have been on our list, please feel free to comment below.

B2BCyCon Fantasy Genre Tour: Behind The Scenes Showcase – Stop #4

 Fantasy “Behind The Scenes” Tour – Stop #4

“The Occult and Magic” by Stephen Morris

I first became interested in the occult and magic when I was very VERY young and saw The Wizard of Oz on television for the first and second times. The first time, my mom says I was terrified of the Wicked Witch’s appearance in Munchkin Land amidst smoke and flames and ran straight to bed! (I must have been 5 years old or so.) The next year I began watching the movie again and made myself stick with it past the appearance of the Witch and after that — I was hooked!

The Wicked Witch of the West became my favorite character because not only is she the most interesting but she is the only one who wields any real power in the movie. She became my idol for years and years! (When a major storm recently struck Manhattan, I made a comment on FaceBook about the wind picking up our house and depositing it atop someone wearing peppermint stripped stockings and glittering red shoes and my cousin responded: “You’ve been chasing those shoes for YEARS!” LoL!)

But the Wicked Witch of the West was my favorite not just because she was powerful. She was also struggling to achieve something, the same way Dorothy was struggling to achieve something. Dorothy wanted to get home to Kansas and the Wicked Witch wanted the shoes of her sister. Were the shoes a sentimental memento? Or were they dangerous weapons? We don’t know. We only know that the Witch wanted those shoes more than anything and was willing to go to any lengths to get them. Just as Dorothy was willing to do anything to get back to Aunt Em and Uncle Henry on the farm in Kansas. The struggles of both the Witch and Dorothy were familiar because they were the same basic struggle. Their struggle was the fundamental human struggle familiar to anyone who desperately wants something—a job, an education, artistic expression, survival or a new life—and will do anything to achieve it.

As an author of contemporary and historical fantasy, I try to introduce readers to characters that are fascinating and powerful yet familiar in basic, fundamentally human ways. No one is perfect. They struggle to achieve their goals. Their experiences with the supernatural ring true because all the magical or fantastic elements in my books are rooted in authentic folklore, legend, or medieval-Renaissance occult beliefs and practices; the experiences of my characters ring true—I hope!—because they engage with the world in the same ways that our grandparents and ancestors did as they struggled to achieve whatever goals they had.

I listen to the characters and help them to discover who they are and what journeys they are on. I share aspects of myself with each of them and they share themselves with me; if I am quiet and listen, I can share not only their joys and frustrations and despair myself but communicate their experience to my readers. My characters interact with those authentic pre-modern beliefs and practices, retelling and reshaping them for modern audiences. I introduce characters to each other that might not have met in their original settings but that have stories and experiences to share with each other. By sharing their experiences, they enrich each other and the readers who can eavesdrop on their conversations or thoughts.

In writing, I try to be my truest self and attempt to build bridges between cultures and histories, practices and experiences, characters and readers.

Find Out More

Website, Amazon

Previous Stop | Next Stop | Tour Index | Genre Index

B2BCyCon Fantasy Genre Tour: Behind The Scenes Index

Welcome to the Fantasy Behind The Scenes Showcase

(Brought to you by the Brain To Books Cyber Convention & Book Expo)

As part of the Fantasy Genre Tour, many of the authors were kind enough to give us some insights into why they love writing, and reading fantasy. Others gave us insights into what goes into putting a fantasy story together. So dive into the tour, and get a sneak peek into the minds of some great authors.

(Links coming as I get them back from the hosting bloggers)

  1. TOUR INDEX
  2. “World Building: It’s Not Just About Drawing A Map” by Stephen Pearl
  3. “Urban Fantasy, Vampires and Anti-Heroes” by Rosemary Johns
  4. “The Occult and Magic” by Stephen Morris
  5. “Fantasy: The Great Escape” by Andy Peloquin
  6. “Behind the Scenes: Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter” by C.A. Verstraete
  7. “Why I Love Fantasy” by Toi Thomas
  8. “Realistic Fantasy” by Suzanna Linton
  9. “Fantasy Made Real” by Alex Carey
  10. “Making Magic 101” by C.L. Schneider

B2BCyCon Fantasy Genre Tour: Showcase & Giveaways Index

Welcome to the Fantasy Showcase & Giveaways

(Brought to you by the Brain To Books Cyber Convention & Book Expo)

As part of the Fantasy Genre Tour, some of the authors asked that we feature books and anthologies that they had contributed to, so that’s what you’ll find here.

  1. Introducing the Prophecy of Hope Saga by Sarah Kennedy
  2. Hell Holes: What Lurks Beneath by Donald Firesmith
  3. Introducing the Spellbound Collection featuring Ash Krafton