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…

Announcing My New Facebook Page

In conjunction with my recent announcement of the reboot of my newsletter,  thought I’d offer as many ways to reach out to my potential audience as possible.

Until now, I’ve fed information, blog posts and more to my personal Facebook page, but it’s time to move beyond that, and do something a little more professional. Which means, I’ve put together a brand new author page.

I’m not sure, at his point, how much the page will get used, or updated, but I want to leave my options open. But here’s where you can find it, so you can keep an eye on it…

(Oh, and you can search for it, reference it, or message me there using @TimothyBatesonUrbanFantasy)

Click to be taken to my new Facebook page

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

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