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^}