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…


“Ramblings of an Author” Turns Three Years Old!!!

This week, I’m putting my series about my Seattle trip on hold. There’s still a lot of things that I want to write about in regards to that vacation, but something even more amazing popped up.

When I sat down to write the third installment of the “Seattle: Through The Eyes Of A Fantasy Writer” series, WordPress had some notifications for me. Among them was a reminder that I had started this blog three years ago, and so I decided to check my statistics, and see what had been happening over those three years. And I discovered that my blog has been doing far better than I suspected. So here’s a breakdown of what WordPress.com thinks has been going on…

 

 

Bullet Journal – The Solution To Your Planning Nightmares?

Okay, it’s confession time: This is going to be a very long post… But one worth reading to the very end, if you have trouble staying organized.

Way back in June 2014, and again in July 2014, I posted about an organizational system called Bullet Journal, created by Ryder Carroll And I gave it a very glowing review, after having used it for only a few weeks.

And then, just like with all organizational systems, I let it slide, and stopped using it.

There were a number of reasons for this, but mostly it came down to the fact that my adaptation of the master and travel journals was just taking up too much time to be efficient. The system was in it’s infancy, and I just wasn’t diligent enough to be using it daily. Things slipped my attention, because I hadn’t written them down. Or I hadn’t properly indexed and important piece of information, and missed out on doing some important stuff.

calendarThen 2016 was coming to an end, and I had huge plans for 2017

I am a regular reader of Popular Science, and get a lot of posts through their RSS feed. But just before the start of 2017 a particular post came to my attention: “HOW ONE NOTEBOOK COULD REPLACE ALL THE PRODUCTIVITY APPS THAT HAVE FAILED YOU : A Nerd’s Guide To Bullet Journaling” [by Amy Schullenbaum]

This article showed me just how much the Bullet Journal system had evolved from 2014, and why 2016 had been a year it’s number of users exploded.

I was intrigued, and I went hunting for more information, and found a wealth of resources, layouts for various sections, and video tutorials, FAQs, walk through and images galore. I’m not going to try to explain the system, because there are people out there who have done it much better, and more creatively, than I ever could.

Instead I’m going to let you read the resources I’ve already linked to, and explain what I did to personalize the system.

search-documentWhat did I do differently to most?

  • Instead of using a regular notebook or journal, I decided to stick with something I had a lot of sitting around my apartment – 3-ring binders.
    • A mixture of lined and grid-lined paper gives me a huge amount of flexibility in how my pages are formatted.
    • Lined pages are really just for note taking, lists, and things that don’t require a special page layout.
    • The grid pages make up the bulk of my organizational structure, the calendex, future log, weekly log, and my trackers.
    • Using three-hole-punched pages makes it easy to assemble my bullet journal on the fly. As I find I need a new page, I add it to the binder under the relevant section, write a header at the top and a page number at the bottom. (Each page number has a letter preceding it to indicate which section it’s in). Then that page number and header (where needed) are added to the indexes/calendars, and cross-referenced from an existing page (where needed).
  • I have multiple dividers in place to separate particular sections:
    • Index & Future Log – The index is still my primary source for finding things quickly, and my future log really isn’t used very much, because of the next section.
    • Calendex & Weekly Logs – The index has no concept of date/time. So I added a Calendex to list upcoming events, and then a weekly calendar to organize each week in more detail. The Calendex lists page references for events, reminders, etc but my weekly calendar doesn’t, since it’s basically a way to setup the tasks on my daily log.
    • Daily Logs – This is the core of my journal. Each day is setup  the night before, unless  have to add a task at short notice. This section is complicated, and simple at the same time. The front pages are a list of ongoing tasks for the year, and then the month. This is followed by pages dedicated to just the daily log of tasks, work hours appointments , etc. I’m finding I often reschedule things until later dates, because I booked too much on a given day, something unexpected happened, or I find myself waiting on important information. However, it allows me to copy relevant tasks from other areas of the journal to the daily list with ease, and my weekly planner and calendex allow me to track the tasks I rescheduled.
    • Events & Appointments – This is where I keep my list of upcoming guest blog slots, important dates, and planning for  vacations and big events . This has become an important section for me, because it’s allowing me to track multiple related projects through cross-referencing page numbers.
    • Habit Trackers – this section is where I’ll hold myself accountable for the various things I know I should be doing every day/week/month, without fail. Right now, it’s just a mini-calendar where I can write in how many words I wrote/edited, cross off days I didn’t do either, and then tally up the total at the end of the week.

awardMy thoughts so far…

  • This system has been extremely fast to pickup and use.
  • In it’s basic form, it’s great for day-to-day stuff, but I needed a lot more than that.
  • There are some great people out there, creating some very innovative page layouts, and additions to the basic system.
  • I would be lost without the various indexes, and my tracker.
  • I’m thinking I need a section dedicated to lists of things I’m gathering, like quotes for my “Someone Else’s Words” posts, and the various posts I’m working on for other authors.

So, that’s my experience of the system at the end of the first month, and I have to say it’s been working much better than my first outing with it. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at this system, and trying to find the best resources to get you started.

Keep one thing in mind – once you leave the Bullet Journal website, all bets are off as to what you’ll discover. You might end up like I did, watching hours of YouTube videos trying to learn more, and then only adopting what I really needed. However, if I hadn’t I might never have adopted the calendex, weekly planner, or tracker that I find so integral to my use of the system.

writingdrinking

So, where can I find out more?

Even a quick search online will show you that there are quite a few people not only using Bullet Journal, but making it work for them in very unique ways.

  • There’s the official Bullet Journal Website @ BulletJournal.Com, and even a glance there will show you just how flexible the system can be. This site will teach you the bare bones of the system, and give you some ideas of what others have done to adapt it to their needs.
  • Eddy Hope, over at Discover Analog, has created something he calls the Calendex, which is a very interesting way to merge a calendar with an index. The Calendex is broken down into months and days, just like a regular calendar. But instead of logging actual actions, appointments, etc you log the page reference of items that are relevant to that date.
  • Kim Alvarez, at Tiny Ray of Sunshine, regularly posts experimental page formats, and updates to how she uses the Bullet Journal system. Kim is also a regular contributor to the official Bullet Journal Blog.
  • Kim (not the same one), at BulletJournalJoy provides some free printable pages for who, like me, assemble their journals as they go.
  • Then there’s Kara Benz, over at BohoBerry, who has a very prolific YouTube channel, which often features her thoughts, experiments and experiences with various page layouts. Kara produces what I consider some of the most beautiful page layouts for her Bullet Journal, and is always trying something new. Check out her “Bullet Journal 101” videos for a great introduction to her process.

I’m A NaNoWriMo 2016 Winner – 1 day early

nanowrimo-stats-timothy-batesonThe Story of a NaNo-Rebel

At the start of the month, I declared myself a NaNo Rebel, for a number of reasons, but I didn’t share them at the time.

Firstly… NaNoWriMo is usually for writing the first draft of a novel, from scratch. Though NaNo-Rebels will often tackle other projects.

Secondly… I wanted to pickup my existing novel project, “Of Wolves & Men: Shadows Over Seattle #1”, and actually finish it.

Now, I was already a little over half-way through writing the novel, based on the outline I’d written, so I was certain I’d finish the project with time to spare.

And I did!

Not only that, but I also managed to go back through about one-third of the book and re-write, or add a pretty sizable chunk of new material. Of course, I didn’t delete anything I’d written, just tagged it for later removal.

At the rate I was writing, I wasn’t sure if I’d catch up to where I’d started the month, so I had to retain everything I wrote to keep that word count up.

November Had Ups and Downs

Not only was I working to complete a novel, I was also working full time, helping my wife find a new job (at short notice), dealing with United States Citizenship & Immigration Services, and planning out some new writing projects.

Consequently, there were days when I failed to hit the daily word goal of 1,667 words. But on the whole, I was able to pick up the slack on other days.

The infographic above is a brief breakdown of my month… To get a more detailed breakdown, visit my NaNoWrimo profile.

Brain To Books – 2017 Cyber Convention & Book Expo

blog-graphic-800-x-12001April Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think!

Authors, are you looking for a way to connect with thousands of readers? Need help with marketing and promoting to your intended audience? Looking to network with other authors so you don’t feel so alone?
Brain to Books Cyber Convention and Book Expo is for you! There are tons of great events geared around genres to help you promote to readers, and a great group of authors who will guide you in how best to promote yourself at these events. The whole weekend is a blast of networking, connecting, fun and sales!

If you’re an interested author, I’d love to see you there:

Join the private Facebook group today to learn more!

Spread the word! Join the event’s Thunderclap campaign

Thunderclap is a great system for spreading the word about events. The event organizers setup a Thunderclap campaign, all the advertising, and start recruiting supporters. Each campaign requires a certain number of supporters to be successfully supported. Then, if the campaign is supported by enough people, before the deadline, Thunderclap posts the campaign’s advertising to the supporter’s social media feeds.

To learn more about how Thunderclap works, click here!

National Novel Writing Month & My Posting Schedule

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org)National Novel Writing Month is now half-way through it’s first week, and I thought I give everyone an update on some of my statistics… (Follow my NaNoWriMo journey as it happens)

Lifetime Achievement: Total NaNo Word Count: 227,623
THIS is the number I am most proud of. Since my first NaNoWriMo in 2011, I have written a more than 225,000 words. That means by the end of the event, I will have more than one quarter of a million words committed to text. And this year, I will celebrate by finishing the first draft of “Of Wolves and Men”

Average number of words per day: 1,418
This might seem a little shy of the 1,667 words per day total, but you have to remember that I’m writing until 3am i the morning, and not starting my writing day until after I’ve finished work at 11:30pm the night before. So this is definitely messing with my stats.

Target Word Count:50,000
Yep, I’m keeping to this target, since this is what everyone is aiming for. Even better still, since I was already 43,149 words into writing “Of Wolves and Men” it should put me in a very good place to have the entire novel finished, or at least close to.

Total Words Written: 7,092
Words Remaining: 42,908
So that’s my total of new words written at the end of the fourth day of writing. I’m aiming to at least write double my target word counts during my days off next week.

At This Rate You Will Finish On: December 6, 2016
Actually, this is a little skewed because of my changing timescales. BUT the deadline for completing the 50,000 word target is just before midnight on November 30th, so I WILL have to try and gain  couple of days worth of writing before the end.

So What Does All This Mean To My Blog Readers?

It means that until the end of the month, my blog will be coming second to my efforts to complete “Of Wolves and Men”. I will probably still post the occasional update, but they will be less regular than my usual two-to-three posts per week.