Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My long, strange road to becoming a published novelist (Part IX)

(This entry is the last of my nine-part chain that began as a guest blog on author Gabriella Hewitt's blog and continued on through six others to author Jamieson Wolf’s blog, before ending here. Click here to return to Part VIII.)

I’d have to say that all the time I spent on editing and polishing paid off in the long run. The first drafts of either of the two books I sold (or my later ones) would never have passed muster. It was the endless, painstaking editing that made the difference. (That and critiques by other authors on critiquing web sites, and readers who’d liked some of my short stories and wanted more, that forced me to keep improving my writing.) Remember that, if you ever feel the urge to “leave it to the editor to fix.” Trust me, you’ll never get to the editor unless the manuscript is in reasonably good shape to begin with. It’ll be rejected long before you get that far.

As for my novels, The Mars Imperative (formerly Lichen or Not) was published in June 2007 (available in paperback from Amazon, and in ebook format on Fictionwise.com), and The Tesserene Imperative (formerly Tesserene) just came out this month (October 2007). I’m still editing and polishing Sunrise Destiny, and I finally finished the first draft of My Other Car is a Spaceship in July 2007. (All the editing and promoting of The Mars Imperative took its toll on my writing time in June and July. The 27,000 words I wrote after signing the contracts took me almost as long as the 85,000 words I wrote before then.)

Now that I’ve sold Lichen and Tesserene, it’s time to get back to work on Reunion, the third book in the trilogy (which will eventually be renamed The [something-or-other] Imperative). That is, if I can find some time to write betwixt and between all the promoting I’m doing….

Clearly, the route I took is the not the traditional one for getting published as a novelist. But with the advent of micropublishers, print-on-demand (POD), self-publishing, ebooks, and the like, there are more routes to getting published than just the “find an agent and wait while they try to get a major publisher interested and then wait some more” route, which can take many years, if it ever happens. Any of these routes could be the “right” route for you. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities, but don’t wait for opportunity to knock—seek it out. (And, of course, selling that first—or second—novel isn’t the end of the journey. It’s only the beginning.)

In the end, I may not be the astronaut—or baseball player or pirate—that I wanted to be as a youth, but—almost as good, and much safer—I get to write about them, and indeed have, in various books and short stories. And, I get to share those stories with others. What could be better than that?

My books are available from Amazon.com/Amazon.ca (paperback), Fictionwise.com (ebook), and other retailers. Or visit my web site at http://tesserene.com.

(Now that you’ve read this nine-part blog chain, what do you think of the idea? Leave me a comment and let me know. Also, please spend some time reading the other entries on the other blogs. There are some terrific authors represented in this chain.)

To begin with Part 1 of this story, click here to jump to author Gabriella Hewitt’s blog.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Blog chain, Tuesday Oct. 23, 2007

Join me on a journey to find out how I became a published novelist. Each leg of the nine-part 'round-the-world (three times!) odyssey will be hosted on the blog of another published novelist.

Part I of "My long, strange road to becoming a published novelist" begins on the blog of author Gabriella Hewitt (Japan). That blog entry contains a link to Part II, hosted by David Boultbee (Canada), which in turn links to Part III (and back to Part I), hosted by Joyce Anthony (USA), and on to the blogs of Suzanne Kamata (Japan), Karina Fabian (USA), Ron Berry (USA), KS Augustin (Malaysia), Jamieson Wolf (Canada), and then finishing up here, on my very own blog (USA), which includes a link back to the beginning (Part I). All nine segments should go live by 8:00pm EDT on October 23, 2007.

Please join us. This should be fun. And while you read each entry,
I hope you'll take a moment to check out the other blogs. These are some terrific writers, in several different genres, whom you may not have encountered before.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Tesserene Imperative is now available!

The Tesserene Imperative, the follow-on to The Mars Imperative, has just been released in ebook format. Currently, it is available on the publisher's website.

Shortly, it will appear on Fictionwise.com. Then, in a few weeks, it will be available in trade paperback format, from Amazon.com and other booksellers.

For more information about either The Tesserene Imperative or The Mars Imperative, please visit my web site at http://tesserene.com.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

More reader reviews for The Mars Imperative

Just in the last few days, a couple of readers have posted brief reviews of The Mars Imperative on Amazon.com, as follows:

The Mars Imperative is a great adventure. I loved it when McKie found a type of life form waiting for discovery. The lichen provides the missing link necessary to reestablish an atmosphere that may support life on Mars. Mark mixed some nice intrigue, drama, and romance along with a touch of Hollywood fame. Well done! I'm proud to have an autographed copy of this wonderful book.
E.S. Thurman

I enjoyed the book very much. It was a fast paced book that was also an enjoyable read. I enjoy sci-fi that doesn't talk down to me that is explained in such a way that I feel like I'm always in the loop as I'm reading!

Mr. Chapman is going to be a voice to be heard in this genre!
Author Erin Gordon

Thanks, E.S., and Erin, for such kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the book so much.


I'll be appearing in Sci-Fi Octoberfest 2007

Author Gabriella Hewitt has graciously asked me to participate in her Sci Fi Octoberfest 2007 blog. Throughout the month of October, you'll find interviews of myself and seven other authors and bloggers, including Susan Grant, David Boultbee, Christine d'Abo, Heather Holland, Liz Kreger, Bev Katz Rosenbaum, and Angela Sci Fi Chick, along with some guest blogs. (The interviewees represent an intriguing mix of sci-fi, romance, and YA fiction.)

Please join us and learn my deepest, darkest secrets, such as if I were a Star Trek character, which would I be, and why? Or what three things would I take with me right before being evacuated from a doomed planet? These and other immensely intriguing questions await you at Sci Fi Octoberfest 2007, where I'll also be talking about my first novel, The Mars Imperative, and my upcoming second novel from the same series, The Tesserene Imperative.


Monday, September 24, 2007

And another great review of The Mars Imperative

Here's another great review of The Mars Imperative, from Michael Southard, editor of Tower of Light fantasy magazine:

The characters seem alive and three-dimensional from the very beginning, which is what kept me reading despite the slow start. James and his friends Lim and Kim are very likable and often just plain fun to read about. In one passage, Lim playfully refers to the group as an exclusive club called the “Im-Crowd,” since all of their names end with “im” (Jim, Lim, Kim). Then, at times when they're lucky enough get together, they continue to joke about it and play on words with the prefix “im.”

The author doesn't disappoint when it comes to the science, either. His descriptions of space elevators, space travel, the conditions on Mars, and the possibilities of extraterrestrial microbial life are exquisite and well researched.

Personally, I was delighted that James didn't stumble upon an ancient Martian city hidden deep beneath the surface. .... What James does find might be more realistic in light of current theory, and might have almost as far-reaching an impact on humanity.

The Mars Imperative is a serious science fiction with excellent character work and dialogue, and a thrilling adventure into the not-so-distant future. It's easy to read and will keep the reader enthralled to the very end.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Tesserene Imperative is almost here!

I finally received the edits for The Tesserene Imperative last night. There turned out to be relatively few of them. I was able to go through the entire 287-page (102,600 word) ms in about four hours today. Most of the edits had to do with punctuation. There was very little rewriting needed, which was great, considering that this was actually my first novel (written a year before The Mars Imperative), even if it is being published second.

Given that there were only a handful of items that needed to go back to the editor for consideration, it shouldn't take long for the publisher to release the PDF file ebook version. Then other ebook formats and the printed book will follow. The printed book may or may not be out this month, but the ebooks certainly should be. We have the ISBN and the cover has been ready for two months.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Parting Shot" now available on Amazon

My science fiction/golfing short story, Parting Shot, is now available on Amazon.

The story involves an aging golfer--a former phenom, a hotshot who pretty much wasted his career partying. Now, on the downslope of his career, he has one last chance at redemption.

I know this doesn't sound much like SF&F, but trust me, it is. The possible redemption is as a result of an extraordinary (supernatural, perhaps) event. There are no wizards or aliens or high-tech gizmos. It's a character study of a man and a golf tournament (the US Open). The story is told partly from the POV of the lead character and partly by the TV golf announcers.

If golf bores you, you wouldn't like the story. But if you have even a passing interest in the game, and like SF&F, you might enjoy it. And it's only 49 cents. (Did I mention how inexpensive the story is?)

Here are a couple of short excerpts from the middle of the story, to give you a feel for the story and the writing style:

After his latest par, a buzz insinuated itself into Gomez’s cocoon of introspection. Startled out of his reverie, he glanced at his caddy, who pointed at the scoreboard nearby. The leader, Steve Hawks, had just hit in the water and double-bogeyed. His score stood at even par for the tournament. Right behind him came Jay Collins, at one over par. Two other players lurked another stroke back, followed at three over par by four men, including…Tom Gomez?

What the hell? Fifth place? How did that happen?

Gomez chuckled to himself, accentuating the wrinkles around his mouth and the crows feet that seemed carved by geologic process.

Figures. I scratch and claw and fight for victories and keep falling short. The one time I tune out the world and say ‘to hell with it,’ I play well. So now what?

More of the same, I guess.

He tried to ignore the leaderboard, but that was like a drunk trying not to notice the bottle of whiskey on the table. It simply tugged at his mind until he was forced to look. Now suddenly in contention, Gomez became distracted by his internal tug-of-war. He hooked his approach shot to the fourteenth green and bogeyed the hole. That dropped him to four strokes behind, and back to ninth place, with four holes to go.

Too many strokes to make up and too many men ahead of me.
His shoulders slumped and he let out a deep sigh. That does it, then. Once again, I’ve managed to screw up royally.


Gomez’s career, his reputation—hell, his life—rode on this one shot. A ridiculously tough shot at that. The green sloped away from the bunker and slightly to the left. If he hit the shot too hard, it would roll forever. If not hard enough, it wouldn’t clear the rough separating the bunker from the green—assuming he even got it out of the bunker

Gomez wriggled his feet down into the sand for balance and waggled his club to loosen the tension in his arms.

Focus on the shot, not the consequences. Hit the ball. Follow through. Execute. You can do this.

He swung smoothly and hit the ball perfectly, just as he’d done thousands of times in practice over the years, spraying sand everywhere. The ball flew high and right at the pin. If it didn’t go in, it would land close.

The gallery roared. From that, Gomez knew he’d hit a great shot. I did it. Damn, I did it. I didn’t choke.

The ball landed softly on the green, four feet from the pin and spun toward it. Gomez hopped out of the bunker to watch the roll. The gallery held its collective breath and went silent.

Go, baby, go!

Three feet, two feet, one foot, it was going right at the cup, picking up speed. The crowd roared. This was history in the making.

It’s in! It’s in! It’s—



Friday, August 31, 2007

Another great review of The Mars Imperative

The reviews keep coming in for The Mars Imperative, and every single one of them complimentary. Here's the latest. It's pretty long, so I extracted the best parts to quote here. If you want to read the full review, use the link below.

[T]his is a professional work of fiction that sets high standards, far better than many novels I've read recently. [It] reminded me at the start of a Heinlein juvi and at the end more like an Alan Dean Foster novel.

I have no idea if the science aspect is believable or not but it sure felt believable; more importantly, the science aspect added to the story instead of detracting, a heck of an accomplishment. [T]he book was particularly appealing when it focused on the main character.

[I]n the final analysis … this is a 'new world' story handled with grace and style…. I give it four out of five stars. Count me in for book 2. I also plan to buy another copy for my Dad.

Paul Taylor (IncrementalGuy) from The Motley Fool web site "Science Fiction and Fantasy Books" discussion group.

Thanks, Paul!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yet another great review of The Mars Imperative

Here's another terrific reader review for The Mars Imperative:

I really enjoyed the science and engineering aspects regarding space elevators. After having read so much about them in other SciFi novels, I always intended to educate myself about the science and engineering that must be involved, but never did. I'm taking TMI as my primer into space elevator technology.

What I liked best about the book was the dialogue. MTC wrote great, both internal dialogue and conversational dialogue. Through his dialogue he developed several strong characters which I look forward to following into his next books. The plot was strong and like all good SciFi, believably takes today's issues and projects them into space. And perhaps best of all, it had its funny parts, lots of them actually, which just made it all the much more fun to read. Good humor must be extremely difficult to write because I so rarely see it, especially in SciFi. […] I'm ready for all of the other Planetary Imperatives.

By the way, I plan to take advantage of the Fair Use Doctrine and use excerpts from the book to teach my 9th grade Biology class about symbiotic relationships and organic molecules. I'm always looking for ways to introduce popular fiction into my teaching. The average reading grade level of my high school students is 3rd grade, so I'm constantly using fiction to teach science content in a way that will get them more interested in reading. I'll also put a check-out sleeve on the back cover so they can check out the book to read. I know it'll just get lost or stolen anyway, so at least you'll sell more books to me that way!

Sara Burns (GeoGoddess) from The Motley Fool web site "All Things Sci-Fi" discussion group.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Still more reviews for TMI

I've gotten some more extremely complimentary reader reviews for The Mars Imperative in the last week. Here's another:

From Author's Den:

Fresh, unique, and smart, "The Mars Imperative" is a fly-by-the-seat science fiction juggernaut of excitement and adventure. The concept captured me immediately and the characters and plotline deliver thrills and chills not easily forgotten. One can easily picture this as the next cinematic blockbuster in the vein of "Star Wars," which was also revolutionary and ahead of its time in its day.
Shannon Phoenix

Sunday, July 29, 2007

More reviews for The Mars Imperative

Formal reviews for The Mars Imperative are trickling in. In addition to the one I posted earlier from Coffee Time Romance, here's one from science fiction author Rick Taubold (More than Magick):

Good science, great characters, excellent story!

Science fiction is often given a bad rap in the public eye because readers believe that the "science" part is going to be incomprehensible. I'm pleased to say that Mark Terence Chapman's debut novel, "The Mars Imperative," is anything but incomprehensible.

Good fiction begins with good characters: characters first, story second. The science part of science fiction should be integral but not primary. By making his characters sympathetic, Mr. Chapman immediately engages the reader in his characters and their story, and his characters have flaws, like real people.

To many readers, "small press" sometimes means mediocre writing, riddled with grammar mistakes, poor editing, and a flimsy story. Mr. Chapman's novel is not only wonderfully written, but the story is truly excellent. Even more amazing is how the author handles the science. Instead of bogging down the narrative with it, he opens his chapters with excerpts from his fictional Encyclopedia Solaris to fill the reader in.

Bravo, Mr. Chapman, on a superb piece of accessible science fiction whose characters and story will remain with the reader for a long time after closing the book.

In addition, there are a number of reader reviews posted to Amazon and elsewhere. For a full list, see the Book Reviews page on my website.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

New venue for The Mars Imperative

For those sci-fi fans who also love romance novels, The Mars Imperative is now available for sale from Coffee Time Romance & More (the "& more" part signifies other genres besides Romance).

For a complete list of the online booksellers who carry The Mars Imperative, go to this page on my website.



Monday, July 16, 2007

My first book review!

My publisher and I sent promotional copies of my first novel, The Mars Imperative, to a number of sci-fi-related web sites. So far, only one has responded with a review: Coffee Time Romance, of all places. (They've branched out into other genres.)

Here's the salient part of the review (the preceding text is merely a description of the story and characters):

Science fiction is one of my favorite genres. The thrill of a new world is what Mr. Chapman gives us in this book. Although right now none of what happens is possible, there is always the possibility of it happening some day. That appealed to me because I could visualize it all happening and it seemed so wonderful! Mr. Chapman opens up new ideas and creates a fascinating place.

The overall rating is "4 coffee cups" out of 5. A 4-cup book is described as:

Outstanding Great Read
This is a very outstanding book you would like to keep to read again in the future.

Here's the full review.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Amazon's book rankings are puzzling

Do you ever pay attention to the book rankings on Amazon? I didn't used to, until I had books for sale. But now I'm befuddled by how they do their rankings. One would think that the more books are sold, the higher the book would rank on the bestseller list. But that doesn't appear to be the case, at least not entirely.

Case in point: My first nonfiction book (OS/2 Power User's Reference: From OS/2 2.0 Through Warp) was published in 1995, before Amazon existed. Before the book went out of print, it was added to Amazon's sales list (in 1997/1998), and sold a few dozen copies. Fast forward to 2007, and my first novel, The Mars Imperative, debuts. When the first copy sold, it rocketed up the sales rankings to #291,000+. 8^} Just out of curiosity, I looked up my old OS/2 book, and saw that it was ranked #4,100,000+. That made no sense. How could a book with dozens of sales be ranked 4 million places lower than a book with only one sale?

And it gets weirder. By the time the second (and last) copy Amazon had in stock sold, the book had dropped to #600,000+. Upon the second sale, it shot up to #78,777. Did that mean there were more than 500,000 books with exactly one sale to their credit? That hardly seemed likely. But how could one sale make a difference of 521,000+ positions otherwise?

Then, while waiting for the next shipment of nine books to arrive at Amazon, I noticed that the ranking had dropped to #700,000+. Did this mean that all those books with one sale had suddenly shot up to three or more copies? That seems unlikely.
Perhaps those other books were all brand new and had just caught on and were now up to eight or ten copies sold; but come on, how likely is it that half a million books were just recently added to Amazon's sales list? And if they were indeed older titles that for whatever reason sold only one copy before, why would they all suddenly get a few more sales? A few books, maybe. But all half-a-million of them?

None of this makes sense (and still doesn't explain why a book with one sale would be ranked four million places higher than one with dozens of sales. The only answer I can think of is that time is factored in with the number of sales, such that a book with hundreds or thousands of sales from ten years ago is ranked lower than one with tens of sales today, especially if the older book is out of print and can't be ordered anymore. (I concede that there's no point in ranking a book highly that's out of print and can't be ordered. But in that case, why rank it at all?) Still, it's not exactly an accurate measurement of where a book ranks in terms of overall sales.

Well, I guess it's all pretty meaningless until a book reaches the top 40 or so and makes it onto the various bestseller lists.

That's something to look forward to, anyway. 8^}

(Update: Three more sales, and the ranking jumped to #93,727.)


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Tesserene Imperative cover

I just got the final cover for The Tesserene Imperative from the artist, CJ England, and here it is. What do you think? (Click on it for a larger view.)

It does a great job of capturing two different scenes from the book in one (but I won't give away which ones they are; you'll have to figure that out for yourself).

This brings us o
ne step closer to completion.

Oh, and here's my new banner, with both covers on it:

Monday, July 2, 2007

Writing time

With all the promotional activity going on around me (for my first novel, The Mars Imperative), as well as the work on my second novel (The Tesserene Imperative)--editing, cover design, and so on--t's been weeks since I've had much time for actual writing.

When I signed the contracts for my first two novels, I was within 3-4 chapters of finishing my fourth novel (My Other Car is a Spaceship). Here I am, five weeks later, and I'm still not finished with it. I finally had some time to write this past weekend, and managed a chapter. That puts me into the final chapter, with perhaps a short epilogue to follow. With any luck, the first draft will be done by this weekend.

Finishing a novel is always bittersweet. First, there's the exultation that comes from completing a project of that magnitude. (A hundred thousand words or more of original composition isn't a trivial task!) Then it's followed by the thought that you may be leaving old friends behind forever (unless there's a sequel coming). Finally there's the
realization that you have months (if not years) of editing, polishing, expanding, trimming, and more polishing ahead before the book is ready for publication. (Not to mention all the time spent on promotion, cover design, blogging, web design, preparing blurbs and excerpts, lining up personal appearances, and the multitude of other tasks that go with selling a book.)

So, even when the book is done, it isn't done by a longshot. But at least it isn't boring.... 8^}


Saturday, June 30, 2007

My business card & postcard

What do you think of my new business card? I think it turned out rather well, and isn't the same 'ol bookmark or refrigerator magnet most authors order. (I'll probably do the bookmarks, too, but not the magnets. Who looks at their refrigerator door when it's time to buy a new book?) I thought the image had something of a black hole look to it, except in a sort of reverse image fashion. Even the lines seem to describe the curved space-time around a quantum singularity.

Click on the image for a larger, readable view.

I also had a two-sided 4x6" postcard made up for The Mars Imperative, with the cover on the front, and a blurb on the back. It turned out equally well, in my opinion. (I've posted the cover image and the blurb text here previously.)


Surgery is so much fun

Yesterday, I had my second surgery in the last three months (third overall) on my right foot (to replace a screw that had pulled loose after the bunion surgery in late March). The surgery was nowhere near as extensive this time, but it still involved IV anesthesia and cutting my foot open. That's never fun.

So now I'm back to having to sit in an easy chair all day with my foot up, but at least I have a laptop on which to do my writing. We just opened our swimming pool the day before the surgery, and now I can't use it for the next ten days. [sigh] I guess I won't be spending much time outside in the 90-degree-plus heat with no way to cool off in the pool....

Ah well, back to work. Enjoy the summer weather, if you can.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New web site

I finally got around to setting up a web site to promote my novels. You can find out about all five of my novels (finished, unfinished, and finished but unsold), as well as my short fiction, nonfiction, humor, poetry, and children's books. Feel free to browse around, read the blurbs/excerpts/bio and the linked stories and poems, watch the video, and so on.

This site may or may not be permanent, but it'll do the job until something else comes along.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Trailer for The Mars Imperative

I've posted the video trailer for The Mars Imperative on YouTube, with a link here (on the right side of the page), as I'm sure you've already seen). I think it turned out really well. Press the Play button to watch it here, or click on the image to go to the YouTube page.

I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Feet feats

You know, my feet were always something I took for granted. No athlete's foot, no other problems. I kept them clean and dry and tried to avoid blisters, and they in turn rewarded me by functioning properly.

Then in late 2000, I went to see a podiatrist about a mysterious pain in the side of my left foot, just below the ankle, that had been bothering me for weeks. Nothing especially painful, just a twinge that didn't seem to go away.

The doctor x-rayed both feet and informed me that I had a bunion on my right big toe that needed surgery.
(A bunion is a form of arthritis, where the two sides of the joint of the "knuckle" of the big toe rub together and form a bone spur. Over time, it becomes painful and actually damages the cartilage in the joint. Left untreated, it can become crippling.)

Wait a minute, I went in for a pain in my left foot! I had no idea anything was wrong with my right foot. (The joint was a bit enlarged but there was no pain.) The doctor never did diagnose that mysterious pain (which is easily masked with Alleve), but we scheduled the bunionectomy (click here for all the gory details, including photos of a surgery) on my right foot for a couple of months down the road (when my schedule permitted me to be off my feet for a few weeks). He also told me I'd need the same surgery on my left foot eventually, but it could wait. The surgery was scheduled just in time, as it turned out. Two weeks before the date of the surgery, I started feeling some twinges in the toe. A week later, it was up to outright pain. I could barely limp around the last few days.

So I had the surgery in early 2001, and it was successful. Then two years later I had the procedure done on my left foot. Six years after the first surgery (March 2007), I had to have a second bunionectomy on the right foot. (They can return.)

Everything went well and I was walking around in weeks with two screws in my foot to help the bone heal. But one day, two months after the surgery, I had a flat tire. There was no one else around but me, so I had to change it. Normally, not a big deal. I change tires all the time. But changing a tire involves a lot of crouching and lifting of heavy tires. Two things not recommended for postoperative feet that are still healing.

The next day, I found that my foot was swollen. I gave it a few days to recover, but after a week, it was still swollen, so I scheduled an appointment with my orthopod, who did x-rays and found that I had ripped one of the screws out of the bone. That meant I might need more surgery to remove the screw and replace it with another one. We decided to wait a month first, to see whether the bone would heal by itself.

Alas, that wasn't to be. I just found out last Thursday that I will, indeed, need more surgery. It's tentatively scheduled for this coming Friday.



Thursday, June 21, 2007

Trade paperback now available

The trade paperback (i.e., printed) version of The Mars Imperative is now out. You can order it from Amazon.com, lulu.com, and the Shadowrose Publishing website, with other venues to follow soon. (See one of the blog entries for June 13, 2007 for a description of the book.)


Welcome, David!

Please welcome fellow Shadowmere author David Boultbee. He recently signed a contract with the publisher for his novel The Gender Divide. It's set to debut in ebook format in July or August 2007, with the trade paperback version to follow. (I'll follow up with a book description when it's closer to availability.)

To keep up with the progress of David's book(s), you can read his blog.

Welcome, David, and much success!


Monday, June 18, 2007

Ah, the Internet

Isn't the Internet amazing? When I wrote my first nonfiction book (The OS/2 Power User's Reference: From OS/2 2.0 through Warp) way back in 1995, I had to communicate with my editor by mail. (I had email, but he didn't.) He snail-mailed me this huge package with galley proofs to edit by hand and mail back to him. What a pain! (And the postage costs weren't trivial, either.)

Fast-forward to 2007. Now I e-mail my manuscripts to the editor, she reads them online, emails me the contracts, and we do all the editing and other necessary communications by email. By going all-electronic, we managed to reduce the editing process for The Mars Imperative from two months to two weeks. I expect the same to be true for The Tesserene Imperative (coming soon to bookstores near you). This means the books get to you that much sooner, and the revenues flow to the publisher and me that much sooner as well. Everyone wins. (Some/all of the major publisher still do things the old/slow way, which is why it can take a novel six months or more from contract-signing to bookshelves.)

The price we have to pay for this ease and convenience is spam and the elimination of "disconnectedness." Where once we could leave the office at the office, we now seem to be connected everywhere and anywhere. Between laptops and PDAs, Internet-enabled cell phones, text messaging and IMing, blogs and websites, it seems almost impossible to rip oneself away from the Internet for more than a few hours. (I've found emails from my editor at all hours of the day, including late nights and weekends. While I applaud her industry, I have to wonder about her stress level.)

I suppose that in time, as with most things, we'll all come to some accommodation with the pace of life and find some balance between connectedness and peace-and-quiet. In the meantime, I'll just keep writing my novels, checking my emails and blogging away, wondering how my life got so hectic lately.... 8^}


Saturday, June 16, 2007

We're Number 291,350!

It doesn't have quite the same ring as "We're Number 1!" But it indicates that at least one Amazon.com customer has ordered a copy of The Mars Imperative since it went on sale at Amazon day before yesterday (otherwise it wouldn't be ranked at all). Go Team! 8^}


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Mars Imperative now on Amazon

Amazon now has The Mars Imperative for sale. The book isn't yet available for shipment, but at least it can be ordered now. It says to allow 4-6 weeks for delivery, but 2-3 weeks is probably more like it.

That makes four venues so far, including Mobipocket.com (ebook only), Lulu.com (ebook and trade paperback), and the publisher's website
(ebook and trade paperback).

The Mars Imperative now on Amazon

Amazon.com now offers The Mars Imperative for sale (trade paperback only). The book isn't yet available for shipment, but at least it can be ordered now. It says to allow 4-6 weeks for delivery, but 2-3 weeks is probably more like it.

That makes four venues so far, including mobipocket.com (ebook download only), Lulu.com (ebook download and trade paperback), and the publisher's website
(ebook download, ebook on CD, and trade paperback).


Blurb of The Mars Imperative

I'm such an idjit! I've been going on for two weeks about my first novel, The Mars Imperative, and it just now hit me that in all that time I haven't bothered to tell anyone what the book's about. Why would anyone buy it? Sheesh. Okay, here goes.

It's the year 2174. With 30 billion people choking Planet Earth, civilization is near a breaking point. Too many cars, too many skyscrapers, too much of everything is straining Earth's ability to supply humanity with the raw materials needed to keep the machinery of civilization going.

The only way mankind can survive long term is to expand to the stars, but that's somewhere off in the future. Until then, we must find a way to mine the solar system for iron, copper, and the many other minerals needed in daily life. Thus far, Mars, Luna, and the asteroid belt are being explored and mined.

Enter James McKie, a 23-year-old recent graduate of the University of Manitoba with a degree in Areology (Martian geology), on his way to his first job in space. Starry-eyed, he looks forward to making his mark on the Red Planet. But first he has to survive the trip there. A mysterious fire aboard his ship is followed by a crisis on the giant space elevator high above Mars.

If he survives everything to get there, he still has to brave the perils of Mars itself: rock slides and planet-wide dust storms that leave the unwary traveling blind in red-out conditions, unable to find their way home before their oxygen runs out.

And then there's the terrorist....

In the end, there's an incredible discovery waiting to be made
: the key to terraforming the planet for human habitation—if it doesn't kill everyone first.



Upcoming reviews of The Mars Imperative

To try to generate buzz for the book, the publisher and I have sent copies of the ebook to a number of SF-related web sites and ezines who have expressed an interest in reviewing the book. (So far four have said yes, a fifth has said to send them the paperback when it's ready, and a sixth has accepted a copy of the ebook, but said that their editors are free to pick and choose which ones they want to read/review--so no promises.)

I heard back from one of the reviewers yesterday, to point out a minor typo on the copyright page. (That's thorough!) But she also tossed me a bone in the same email:

Hey I'm on page sixty and really enjoying this book, well written and engaging characters...back to reading.

It's hardly a full review, and she might hate the book as a whole, but it's a good start anyway. And she hadn't even gotten to the best parts yet. 8^}

More on this as reviews come in.

Mark. (Keeping my fingers crossed.)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Mars Imperative book cover

Here's the cover from my first published book. It's not perfect (the color of Mars is wrong, I don't know what the blue swoosh is supposed to represent, and there are no stars in the background), but I'm just the author. I have limited input into the creative process of designing a book cover. 8^} At the very least, it's eye-catching, no? (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

If you look closely, you can make out the cables and the cars of the space elevator connecting the Orbital Docking Facility to the planet.)

Update: The Mars Imperative is now available on Mobipocket.com and Lulu.com, as well as the publisher's web site (shadowrosepublishing.net).


The Mars Imperative now available!

I just got the word that my book, The Mars Imperative is now available for ordering (the ebook) or preordering (the trade paperback) on Lulu.com. It should be available on Amazon.com within 2-3 weeks, and the publisher's web site before then. Other venues will follow.

Yay! 8^}


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Devil's Embrace now available

If you like your romance novels funny and steamy at the same time, Devil's Embrace by Victoria Chapman (described earlier) is for you. It just hit the virtual shelves at lulu.com. It should be available from Amazon.com, Borders, and elsewhere later this month. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)


Devil's Embrace now available

If you like your romance novels funny and steamy at the same time, Devil's Embrace by Victoria Chapman (described earlier) is for you.

It just hit the virtual shelves at
http://www.lulu.com/content/914264">lulu.com. It should be available from Amazon.com, Borders, and elsewhere later this month.

Here's a close-up of the cover art:

The life of a new author

Beyond the excitement of signing the contracts and being recommended by Oprah (I wish!), there's a lot of work involved in getting a book to market (and, with, luck, making it a success). I've previously mentioned working with the artist on a cover design and working with the editor on the galley proofs and to decide on the final title of the book.

In addition, there's creating a short blurb for the jacket to describe the book in such a way that a casual browser just has to buy it. And there's selecting a longer excerpt to represent the book on your web page. Not to mention creating said web page in the first place (and, natch, a blog). And writing an author's bio that's both informative and somewhat less dry than a 5,000-year-old mummy's throat.

But that's just the beginning. If you're not lucky enough to sign with one of the top publishers--with enough buzz behind your book to warrant a big-bucks promotional campaign--you as the author are in for a lot of work doing self-promotion.

I'm still learning about this, but there are many aspects to promoting yourself and your books. There are the little things, like printing up bookmarks to hand to people. (The bookmarks contain your cover art and something about you, the author.) Also, letting everyone know you just sold a book--including people in all the chat rooms, discussion groups/forums you frequent, as well as all your IM buddies. If you belong to writer's groups, book discussion clubs and the like, let them know as well.

Unless you're sure that every bookstore in the known universe will carry your book, it doesn't hurt to drop into all the local bookstores and offer to autograph all the copies of your book that they order. Getting a few copies in the door (especially if they're posted with a sign indicating that they're autographed), can't hurt. Who knows, you might sell a few.

In addition, you might email all the websites and ezines you can find that do book reviews and ask them if they'd review your book. You might be surprised at how many will trade a review for a free book. (It doesn't guarantee a favorable review, but when you're an unknown writer whose book sales are effectively zero, a positive review will help far more than a negative review can possibly hurt you. (You can't have negative sales, right?)

As for book signing, interviews, talk shows, etc., you should be so lucky. If it happens, sure, it'll be a grind, and after the first blush of excitement fades, not much fun. But it sure beats being ignored. Right?

Mark. (Still waiting to see the final cover design.)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Editing done

Well, I spent the whole weekend rereading The Mars Imperative from end to end, making hundreds of minuscule edits. But it's done, and should be ready to go (barring any last-minute changes by the editor).

I also saw a couple of cover mockups this morning. I chose one of the two concepts, and now the artist and I are going back and forth over some of the details. But it shouldn't take much longer to settle on the final look. I know this will sound silly, but I love the font she chose for the title and author name. It has just the right feel for the title. I'll post the final cover image once I get it.

More later.


P.S. With the edits done and the cover nearly done, this is starting to feel real! 8^}

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Two weeks to go!

With approximately two weeks to go until The Mars Imperative "ships" in ebook format, (sometime after that in trade paperback), it's getting hectic. I just got the edits back from my editor, Patty, and they're pretty minor (punctuation, mostly). I'm going to spend most of this weekend rereading/polishing the book, for a final version on Monday.

Meanwhile, I hope to get the mockup of the cover on Monday as well. I provided several possible ideas to the artist, but I have no idea which, if any, she chose to go with, or what she did with it. (Once I get a more-or-less final version of the cover, and figure out how to post pictures here, I'll provide a link to the cover.)

Then I get to start working on the edits for The Tesserene Imperative, and then finish the last 2-3 chapters of My Other Car is a Spaceship, and then write an expanded/polished second draft of it. And when all that's done, I get to go back to Reunion and write the second half of it. Whew! (And that's not even counting my day job as a technical writer.)

I guess all that should keep me out of trouble for the next few months. 8^}


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Coming soon: Selamere's Quest

I suppose I should have mentioned that I have a short story coming out in the August/September issue of AlienSkin magazine. The story is called Selamere's Quest, and it's a bit of a genre-bender. It looks like a simple sword-and-sorcery fantasy, but there's more than meets the eye.... (Isn't there always?)

I hope you enjoy it.

Testing, testing . . . .

Hi, everyone! I'm new to this newfangled blogging-type stuff (despite my 28 years in the IT industry). I just sold my first two science fiction novels to Shadowmere Publishing, and my editor strongly (i.e., under pain of, well, pain) recommended setting up a blog. So here it is. How d'ya like it so far? 8^}

Anyway, my first novel is called The Mars Imperative. Set about 160 years from now, it follows the adventures of a rookie geologist, James McKie as he leaves Earth for his first job on Mars. Without giving everything away (and killing the sales of the book), let's just say that his cruise to the Red Planet is less than peaceful. We have sabotage, explosions, kidnap--whoops! I said I wouldn't give it all away.

Then when he finally reaches Mars, it seems like the ol' God of War is out to get him, too, between landslides, dust storms, and--darn it! I did it again. Somewhere along the way, if the perils of Mars and the terrorist--aarrgghh!--don't get him, he might just live long enough to make a momentous discovery that opens the door to widespread human habitation of Mars--assuming that discovery doesn't kill everyone on the planet first!

So the story is a rollicking adventure full of action, danger, humor, and lots and lots of SEX. (Okay, just kidding about the sex. Did I get your attention?)
The Mars Imperative is scheduled for release on June 15, 2007.

My second novel, set in the same universe but 11 years later, is The Tesserene Imperative. With 43 billion people inhabiting this mudball of ours, natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce. As in The Mars Imperative, the only way for humanity to survive long-term is to mine and colonize other planets. Mars and the asteroid belt are not enough; we must expand to other systems. The ultra rare mineral, tesserene, is the key to the starflight drive. Without sufficient tesserene to fuel the ships of space, humanity is effectively imprisoned in its own system.

As a result, dozens of prospecting and mining ships are scouring the nearest star systems for tesserene and other mineral resources. One such ship, Shamu, is in the asteroid belt of the Richelieu system when it is nearly destroyed in a collision. The five-man crew has three days of air remaining, little water, and a smashed starflight drive. It'll take every ounce of ingenuity and stubborn pigheadedness to find a way to survive. But if they can, a prize awaits them that will open the galaxy to human exploration--and threats the likes of which humanity has never seen.
(Sorry, still no HOT, PERVERTED SEX in this book, either.) The Tesserene Imperative is scheduled for release in October 2007.

In the months to come, the third saga in The Imperative Chronicles will find James McKie joining forces with the crew of Shamu in a new adventure. No release date yet for this tome. (Hey, gimme a chance to finish writing it for cryin' out loud....) I don't know about FILTHY, LUSTY, ANIMAL SEX yet, but it's doubtful. Stay tuned for further developments.

At some point, all the books will be available from Amazon.com, Borders, Lulu.com, and other venues. Initially, however, the ebooks and trade paperback books, will be available from the publisher's website, at shadowmerepublishing.com.

In addition, I have two other novels looking for a good home. The first is called Sunrise Destiny. It's about a private detective who gets an "offer he can't refuse" from a local mob boss. The search for a missing girl turns into a much larger case, involving dozens of missing women. Is it a case of a secret government conspiracy, a mad scientist trying to take over the world, or perhaps intergalactic vampires hungering for our blood? Donatello Sunrise doesn't know, but he's determined to find out. (No publisher yet.) There's plenty of kinky SEX in this book--but it's all off-screen. Sorry.)

And my latest novel (just finishing it up) is called My Other Car is a Spaceship. It begins with retired USAF jet-jockey Hal Nellis mowing his lawn. An instant later, he finds himself standing aboard a spaceship in orbit. Before long, he's recruited in a war to defend "backward" planets like Earth from space pirates that loot, pillage, and kidnap people as slaves. (Yes, that's where all those alien abduction stories come from. Now you know.) Can the pirates be defeated before they become too powerful? (No publisher yet.) Sorry, no DIRTY SEX in this book either. Jeez, people, get your minds out of the gutter!

If you're so all-fired interested in HOT, STEAMY, SWEATY, SEX, I suggest you check out the romance novel by Victoria Chapman (yes, we're related). It's called Devil's Embrace, and can be found at Shadowrosepublishing.net as of June 29, 2007 as well as from Amazon, etc.

And to answer the burning question of why this blog is called Tesserene Dreams . . . drum roll, please . . . it's because The Tesserene Imperative was actually my first novel, and was almost called Tesserene Dreams--in my mind, anyway.
Calling this blog Tesserene Dreams is a way to remember its roots. (I know, I know, all that build-up for this?) Besides, sci-fi and fantasy is all about dreams, no?

So that's my first blog entry. How'd I do? Let me know.

(For more about me, check out my profile.)