Since her very first newspaper story in the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal in 1987, Billie Rae Bates has been published in many different places, including newspapers in several cities and states. She's written three novels and four pop-culture reference books.
She graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism and English in 1990.
Billie Rae spent two years as an editor at a Jostens Learning Corp. subsidiary, Hartley Courseware, in Dimondale, Mich., before her first newspaper job at the Wausau (Wis.) Daily Herald, where she was an editor and page designer.
From Wausau, Billie Rae moved to Saginaw, Mich., where she became the design editor of The Saginaw News. While she worked in Saginaw, she hosted a weekly television show for the American Red Cross, called "Red Cross Currents" on WNEM-TV, Channel 5. A one-act play she wrote, "Little Girl Lost," was produced at the Buckham Alley Theater in Flint.
A couple of years later, she went to The Detroit News, where she worked as an editor, page designer and occasional book reviewer. She did writing and photography for the Comics Continuum website (then called the Comic Book Continuum, when it was under the umbrella of The Detroit News). In 1998, she created, developed and authored a series of websites devoted to several classic 1980s television shows, dubbing the collective sites "BRBTV."
Next, Billie Rae worked at the corporate headquarters of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in downtown Detroit, where she edited BCBSM publications and managed the corporate photography. She also occasionally did voiceover work for BCBSM multimedia presentations. During her seven years living in Detroit, she photographed a sort of '90s "chronicle" of the city, capturing the good, the bad and the ugly within the city limits.
From there, she took a post as the director of communication and outreach services for a northern Michigan hospital system, which fully immersed her in the world of marketing communications and gave her a chance to speak in the community, and even continue voiceover work in the health system's radio spots. A year and a half later, she made the difficult decision to leave the corporate world -- a world she truly loved and had worked hard in -- to concentrate on her writing projects and on community ministry work. She worked in some freelance writing, once again, for The Detroit News. She also parlayed her BRBTV concept, which she had been slowly nurturing all along, into a series of electronic books, first published in 2003 then assimilated into print editions beginning in late 2004.
In 2004, Billie Rae moved to Metro Atlanta, Georgia, which became the setting for her third novel, "Enie." She served as the publications director for one Metro Atlanta church for three years, then took on the position of manager of communication for a megachurch across town, all the while maintaining her own writing projects. To mark her 40th birthday in 2008, she launched the yearlong photo essay project "My Mother's Clothing," following it up in 2009 with "The Inexplicable Lives of Dolls."
In spring 2009, she moved to the Washington, D.C., area, where she does web management for some U.S. government sites. In 2010, she began working again for the Comics Continuum website, along with its brand-new, accompanying TV show airing on Detroit's Channel 20, doing video interviews (see a list of links at work.billierae.com).
She's been an active member of the Amazon community and has been a featured blogger on Congoo.
She certainly has had some fun along the way. Her name was drawn into the cover of issue 34 of the comic book "Cheryl Blossom" by longtime Archie Comics artist Dan DeCarlo. Her feet are featured on the cover and inside sleeve of the "Innovative Expressions No. 5" CD of Detroit musician Spence Beamon. And, if you own the DVD of the first "X-Men" movie, you'll see Billie Rae snapping photos in the background during the clip of the film's celebrity premiere on Ellis Island in the summer of 2000 (she's wearing a short black dress of Asian design)!
But most importantly, God has taken good care of her. When Billie Rae stepped down from her post as the director of communication at the health system in northern Michigan in December 2002, her staff gave her a going-away gift of a beautiful wall hanging bearing Jeremiah 29:11. Since then, the Lord has shown that same verse to Billie Rae in many, many other places -– on gifts of trinket boxes and coffee mugs, in radio commercials and sermons and everywhere else, it seems. It's been a special verse to her, especially since the Lord has delivered on that promise and continues to deliver on it, helping her through difficult storms and offering some wonderful blessings. It made what she jokingly called “Year 40” that much more meaningful. See the My Mother’s Clothing photo project at MyMothersClothing.BillieRae.com (particularly the photo titled “The Phoenix”). She’ll be happy to tell you more one-on-one; just email her.