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!

 

 

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…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Help Stop Bullying By Educating People On The Effects

“Teacher reveals odd tactic to prevent bullying – and it leaves all her students in tears.”

That’s how this video was posted to me over on Facebook, and I’m not normally one to jump on my soap-box. But, there are some videos that I feel really need to be shared, and this is one of them. This video shows just how damaging bullying can be, in a way that those of us who have experienced it can appreciate.

Unfortunately, while this video shows the effects of bullying, it doesn’t educate people on how to deal with the being bullied, or how to handle the bullies themselves. There are so many types of bullying that educating people on how to deal with it will take a lot more than a two minute video.

My Personal Experience Of Bullying

I personally experienced several years of bullying during my schooling, and the schools seemed to consider me to be the problem. I was shy, quiet, and a bit of a book-worm (go figure). Because I ‘allowed’ the bullying to happen by not ‘fighting back’, I was sent to the school counselor for therapy.

Now I’ve never been a violent person, so I wasn’t happy with the idea that I should hit back, and they decided to try and help with my ‘anger management issues’. Apparently throwing a rag around the room was going to help me de-stress, and reduce my levels of anger. They made one mistake… Sure, I was stressed, but I wasn’t angry. Okay, they made TWO mistakes. They left the windows open, and the rag went out on almost as soon as I had it in my hand.

It took several years for me to really break out of the shell I built around myself, and I still have days when I find myself thinking about those years. But, love, care, friendships, and a lot of understanding have helped make things a lot easier to deal with.

Some Thoughts On Bullying

The whole bullying issue has really struck a nerve with me. It affects so many different types of people at a vital time in their lives.
– Kenny Wormwald

We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos and negativity and bullying in the world. And I think if everybody focused on what we all have in common – which is – we all want to be happy.
– Ellen DeGeneres

Children should always be brave and do something about bullying. It’s not okay to stand by and let it happen. Bullies thrive off secrecy. Children should tell someone if they see someone being bullied.
– Imelda Staunton

Here’s My Biggest Hope In Sharing This…

I hope that sharing this video and my personal experiences keeps the conversations about bullying going, and helps at least one person.

Let’s help reduce the instances of bullying, wherever they occur. It’s a problem that extends outside the schools and has a huge affect on so many people. The scars from being bullied may fade, but they are never truly gone. And that’s for those of us who survive the experience. Every time I see reports of bullying, or suicides that have resulted from bullying it brings back those memories of what I experienced.

It saddens me that we have been unable to stamp out bullying yet… So please, LIKE, SHARE, COMMENT!

Don’t let bullying continue by remaining silent!

Look Up | Gary Turk – Official Video

Those of you who’ve been following me for a while know that I very rarely post anything that could be considered social commentary. This is partly, because this is not that kind of blog, and secondly, because sometimes that kind of content is inflammatory, and often already overshared.

But this video struck home in so many ways, that I wanted to share it. As a writer, I value the experiences I’ve had in life, and am grateful for those I’ve been able to share with others.

I’m hoping that in this ultra-connected world of ever-present social media, this video can show a side of life that some people might be missing out on.

A full transcript of the video can be found here.

To quote Gary Turk, the video’s creator:

I don’t want you to stop using social media or smartphones.
It’s about finding a balance. It’s about making sure you are awake, alive and living life in the moment; instead of living your life through a screen.

B2BCyCon Is Coming – Show Your Support For The Fantasy Genre Events!

So What’s It All About?

There are rumblings deep under the mountain, and those who live close by swear that they have seen fire and smoke in the distance. Ever since the town was established, local bards have told tales of a great monster that sleeps beneath those sacred peaks. But every now and then it awakes, angry at the world, and with a hunger that will only be satisfied with destruction. Before you know it, the great beast will awaken, and unleash havoc upon the land.
The mayor is asking for volunteers to take on the challenge. Will you be one of the few with the bravery and skill to venture into the caverns in search of a way to destroy the beast, before it awakes?

Join the brave souls attending the Brain To Books Cyber Convention fantasy genre events. And keep reading to find out what it’s all about, how to show your support, and what is happening elsewhere at the convention.

What Is The Brain To Books Cyber Convention?

The Brain to Books Cyber Convention and Book Expo is an annual event that brings authors and readers together for a massive online event. Happening every April, it showcases some of the best indie authors in the world. It lets them meet readers, run competitions, take part in online discussions, and so much more. The entire weekend is dedicated to readers and books, so come join us.

I have the honor of having been asked to help coordinate the planning, organization, and running of the Fantasy Genre events. I’ll admit that I’m extremely excited about what we have coming up.

When is all this happening?

  • April 7th-9th 2017

Spread the Word:

What events are the fantasy genre authors running?

  • We’ll be hosting discussion groups on a range of subjects
  • Live role-play sessions: a team of writers will play characters from their stories, and readers influence the challenges the players must overcome.
  • There will also be a scavenger hunt running through the entire weekend, with some great prizes.

How to take part:

  1. Share this campaign with your friends, and help them discover some great books.
  2. “Save the Date” to enter for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card.
  3. Wait for the reminder about the event to arrive in your email.
  4. Attend the event and have a blast!

What Other Events Are Going On Elsewhere At The Convention?

  • YouTube discussion panels
  • Book expo showcase
  • Genre-based blog hops and tours
  • Giveaways
  • Grab bags
  • Goodreads author showcase
  • Author interviews
  • Workshops
  • Character competitions
  • Cover wars competition
  • …And much more.
  • Three days of a book lovers paradise.

Join us in 2017, as book lovers unite on April 7th, 8th, and 9th.

Readers can go here and Save the Date: http://b2bcycon.com/ (And be entered into a $100 Amazon Gift Card drawing)

Authors can check out the Getting Started Page: https://braintobooks.com/getting-started/