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,, 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 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 (ebook only), (ebook and trade paperback), and the publisher's website
(ebook and trade paperback).

The Mars Imperative now on Amazon 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 (ebook download only), (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 and, as well as the publisher's web site (


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 It should be available on 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 It should be available from, 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"> It should be available from, 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^}