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.

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…


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

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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

B2BCyCon Fantasy Genre Tour: Book Expo – Stop #1

Introducing the Prophecy of Hope Saga by Sarah Kennedy

A deep and far-reaching Fantasy series with unraveling depths and dark story arcs
An ancient evil
A Promised King
A world besieged
The Age of the Prophecy has begun.

Do you remember that singular moment when your life began? Do you remember the first drop of blood to course in your veins? Do you remember being an active participant in the great mystery of your own conception? Few are cursed with such knowledge but I am a rarity of existence though existence and life are not equal. Time has always meant very little to me. Your frailties have always been my strength yet here, now, I fear what may be coming and I fear what has already been, because I remember my beginning—and all beginnings since! I remember when I was no more than an errant thought. I remember being the wretched stain marring the glory of the Kingdom. I remember tasting the life of a god just as I remember being cast down. I am Darkness, and in the utter abyss, which is who and all I am, I begin to feel time reaching inside me, reaching for that one drop of golden life whose taste haunts my every moment, and I remember what it is to burn…

 

Find Out More

www.sgarrwrath.com

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B2BCyCon Fantasy Genre Tour: Book Expo – Stop #2

Hell Holes: What Lurks Beneath by Donald Firesmith

It’s August in Alaska, and geology professor Jack Oswald prepares for the new school year. But when hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appear overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, Jack receives an unexpected phone call. An oil company exec hires Jack to investigate, and he picks his climatologist wife and two of their graduate students as his team. Uncharacteristically, Jack also lets Aileen O’Shannon, a bewitchingly beautiful young photojournalist, talk him into coming along as their photographer. When they arrive in the remote oil town of Deadhorse, the exec and a biologist to protect them from wild animals join the team. Their task: to assess the risk of more holes opening under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the wells and pipelines that feed it. But they discover a far worse danger lurks below. When it emerges, it threatens to shatter Jack’s unshakable faith in science. And destroy us all…

Excerpt

Though the sun had finally dipped behind the rounded mountains of the Brooks Range, the temperature remained well above freezing, leaving the ground moist from the morning’s rains. It was quiet except for the soft sound of the breeze blowing through the short shrubs and sedges that covered the tundra of the North Slope.

An arctic fox silently patrolled his territory. He sniffed the ground, following the scent of a female that had passed by earlier that evening. She had brushed against a bearberry bush, and he stopped to breathe in her enticing smell. She was in heat, and he hoped to father her second litter of the season.

Though the fox occasionally heard the distant rumble of big rigs driving north along the Dalton, carrying supplies to Deadhorse and the oil fields around Prudhoe Bay, he paid them no mind. The humans were several miles away, and unlike wolves and wolverines, they posed no threat.

The fox abruptly stopped, turning his head to the side in puzzlement. He heard a faint hum that seemed to come from the ground below him. It was a new sound, one that he had not heard before. It rapidly increased in volume until it became a piercing, high-pitched whine, far beyond the dull hearing of the humans in their trucks. In agony, the fox rolled on the ground, desperately pawing at his ears in a vain attempt to stop the pain. He yipped and whined, adding his voice to the faraway howling of wolves.

The sound suddenly stopped, replaced by a deep rumble as the ground beneath the fox began to shake. Slowly, foot by foot, a huge circle of tundra the size of a large pond began to push itself above the surrounding tundra. Carrying the fox upward, it rose until it reached the height of a caribou’s antlers. Along its circular boundary, loose wet dirt and ragged patches of plants fell off, forming a ring-shaped pile that surrounded the rising ground.

With a sharp jerk, the massive cylindrical plug of earth underneath the fox stopped rising and began sliding downward. No longer incapacitated by pain, the terrified fox sped across the quivering ground, running for his life as it continued its unrelenting collapse. He ran toward the edge, arriving just as the ground beneath him slipped below the short ring of loose and muddy soil that marked its circumference. With a desperate leap, the fox jumped up, landing on the ring’s slippery slope as the ground continued its collapse into the rapidly deepening crater. He slipped, sliding perilously backwards before desperately pawing his way back up and over the top. Once down on the solid ground surrounding the huge hole, he ran away as if he were chased by a pack of starving wolves.

The frightened fox was several hundred yards from the hole when the rumbling stopped. Still running for his life, he did not see the brilliant blue burst of light that shot skyward out of the huge crater. But he did see dozens of similar blue beams briefly light up the northern horizon. As suddenly as they appeared, the lights winked out. The fox did not stop until he had placed several miles between himself and the pit. Silence returned to the North Slope, while the scent of sulfur and decay filled the air above the newly formed hell holes.

 

Find Out More

http://donaldfiresmith.com

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