Saturday, December 28, 2013

Books to Read in 2014

 Books for your nightstand: We're all readers. What do readers like better than to hear about new books? If you like my writing, then chances are we have similar tastes in literature, and so you might be interested in the novels I'm looking forward to reading in 2014:
Hild by Nicola Griffin: Described by io9, one of my favorite websites: "Nicola's effortlessly immersive descriptions of life in the Middle Ages will enthrall you, but so will her depiction of a woman trying to survive as the Seer in a society that believes in prophecy and conflicting gods. A must-read for anybody who writes (or reads) historical fantasy."

Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye: This is the first book in a series. I've heard wonderful things about this historical mystery sets in the turn-of-the-century New York. Gangs of New York mets Caleb Carr's The Alienist is how it's been described. 
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker: Everyone is raving about this tale of a jinni who teams up with a golem in 1899 New York City.

Something More Than Night by Ian Tregellis: Described as a Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler inspired murder mystery set in Thomas Aquinas's vision of Heaven. It's a noir detective story starring fallen angels, the heavenly choir, nightclub stigmatics, dirty priests, swell dames, femmes fatales, and the Voice of God and it's been praised as absolutely brilliant.
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch: The main character in Lynch's novel (third in a series) has been described as a charming bastard, and you know I find well done scoundrels irresistible. I'll be starting with the first book in the series, though, The Lies of Locke Lamora, and save this one to the end.
Now it's your turn: what books are you looking forward to reading in 2014?

Friday, December 20, 2013

More Descent News

More tidbits...

In case you didn't hear about it earlier, RT Book Reviews gave a nice review of The Descent and made it a Top Pick! for January 2014:

“A satisfying finale to an intense and spellbinding series...The three books make up a beautiful story executed perfectly from start to finish… The Descent is a haunting, unforgettable tale of love, passion and humanity.” – RT Book Reviews

Cadsawan Jewelry--official jewelry maker for several series including 50 Shades of Gray, Black Dagger Brotherhood, and Morganville Vampires, among others--has made a bracelet with the Vial from The Taker. We'll be featuring the bracelet in a few upcoming giveaways: check back for details.

I won't be doing a lot of events for The Descent release mostly due to the weather at this time of year (not so good for travel) but a few have been posted to my Events page. The book launch party will be at One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia on January 14th at 7 PM. (If you can't join us at the launch party but would like a signed and/or personalized book, you can order them through One More Page at this link.)

I'll be appearing at libraries in Annandale, Ashburn and Gum Spring, and at the Falmouth Historical Society. Please check the events page for details, although information about more stops will be coming. Also, I'll be doing a few festivals in the coming months including the Virginia Festival of the Book in March, Southern Kentucky Book Festival in April, and the Philadelphia Writers Conference in June.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

News, and a contest for you

The long-awaited Croatian edition of The Taker
Yet to convince some of your reading pals to try The Taker stories? Show them Jennifer Castro's piece over at fashion magazine Cliche. I think she perfectly captures the books' niche. There's a Q&A, too.

Super nice review of The Descent at t and a book. Thanks, Tegan!

Ever want to be a character in a book? Enter the name-a-character contest and you might get your dream come true. To celebrate the release of The Descent and to thank you all for your support, I'm holding a contest where the winner gets to name a character in an upcoming book. It can be named after you, a child or family member, in memorial for a friend. All the details here. Closes 1 January.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

From The Descent

I was marched into the bedchamber. It was huge, a cross between the sort of royal apartment you'd see at Versailles and a neglected sepulcher. The room was vast but the furniture was clustered in the center of it, leaving the walls and corners hidden on woolly darkness. The silk wall coverings were mildewed and rotting; cobwebs hung from a giant unlit chandelier overhead, By far, the grandest thing in the room was the bed, a massive structure with posters that thrust heavenward like spires on a church. The bed curtains were great waterfalls of fabric, red velvet lined with gold satin and trimmed with braided swag. It was then, with a jolt of horror, that I realized this was the bed I'd seen in my nightmare. The coverlets were thrown back, as they'd been in my dream, revealing a woman astride a man like a succubus, their flesh tones stark against blindingly white sheets.

The queen. She was tall, almost painfully slender, and luminously white, as though lit from within. Her face was fiercely and coldly beautiful.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lowest price ever on The Reckoning

I'd like to interrupt your Christmas shopping and present wrapping and eggnog drinking and ice-skating parties and tree-decorating to let you know that The Reckoning ebook is available on Kindle for $1.99.

It is part of this month's Kindle Big Deal, which means from today until the 29th, it's on sale. In case you're wondering why just Kindle, why not Nook and Kobo and the print version while we're at it, the decision as to which books get included in the promotion is made by Amazon. They set the price, too. (By the way, you don't have to own a Kindle device: you can download the Kindle app to your tablet or smart phone, even your desktop computer or your laptop.)

I know you've been really good this holiday season. You've been pulled in a million directions trying to make everyone else--your spouse, your kids, your relatives, your boss, your coworkers--happy. Why not make yourself happy too and go get The Reckoning now for this sweet price? I can guarantee that it will never be lower.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

From The Descent: The Peacock Blue Book of Secrets

The old man slipped the deerskin off, then held the book  up to examine it under the light from the candelabras. He flicked through the pages, pleased. At length he said to Adair, "It's a lovely book, wouldn't you agree? And a very rare one. Do you know the provenance of this time?"

Adair shook his head.

"If you did, doubtless you would've fought harder to keep it." The old man gave him a cunning smile, pleased with himself. "It was reportedly made by a French monk who was a secret devotee of the occult arts during the Capetian reign,  prior to the time of eleanor of Aquitaine. The Church has a very long and intimate relationship with the occult," he said, clearly delighting in his new possession the way a man might extoll the virtues of a superb wine or a good spouse to whoever is within earshot.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book recommendations for Small Business Saturday

I was driven to write this blog by the confluence of two events: 

(1) November 30th is Small Business Saturday and thanks to author Sherman Alexie (of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, among other books) I--along with many other writers--will be posing as a bookseller at an independent bookstore. Mr. Alexie came up with the idea, which is being touted under the name "Indies First", as a way for authors to show their support for independent bookstores. My favorite independent bookstore in the area is One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia whom, you might remember, was visited by the President last Small Business Saturday. I, along with area authors Ellen Crosby, Tim Wendel, Kathleen McCleary (among others) will be on hand at the store to make recommendations to holiday shoppers. And:

(2) I realized I'd fallen down on the job with this blog. I blame the long run of Social Media News for Writers, which got me off using the blog as a place to let folks know what I've been up to--particularly readers of my books, which readers of Social Media News tended not to be. I've been posting excerpts from The Descent in anticipation of publication in January, but they seemed awfully lonely as I was putting up nothing inbetween times.

So here goes.

I've been thinking about what book recommendations I plan to make on Small Business Saturday. It's a little hard to plan for since there's no way to know what shoppers will be looking for. There are whole swathes of the book publishing landscape that I am unfamiliar with: I'm no good on biographies for instance, or cookbooks or picture books. Even with fiction, I tend to read the classics. In new books, I lean towards ones that are interesting from a writer's point of view: they handle some trick thing especially well, for example. I'm sure my tastes are more quirky than most people would like. Nevertheless, I think I'm prepared to recommend the following books (should anybody ask):

THE LAST POLICEMAN by Ben Winters: This book is very interesting from a writer's perspective: a young man is vaulted up the ranks of the police force to detective and faced with solving his first homicide--as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth, destined to wipe out mankind. It's part police procedural, part science fiction. The question for writers is how do you sustain the reader's interest in the murder mystery when you have something else so huge at stake in the story? The novel is really about why it's important to behave morally and honorably even in the face of annihilation. 

LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson: Although this big bestseller hardly needs a recommendation from me, I would recommend this book to aspiring writers who want to know how to handle a fantastical or supernatural aspect (in this case, reincarnation) in a book that is, by every other measure, mainstream fiction. I "read" the audiobook version, which was a long, lovely way to take in the story. This is the UK cover so don't bother looking for it in your local shops (unless you happen to be in the UK).

THE LOST BOOKS OF THE ODYSSEY by Zachary Mason: A collection of short stories that are all variations on the stories in the Odyssey. It's retelling after retelling, all slightly different, showing every possible mood and thought Odysseus could've possibly had (hmm, I'm noticing a theme here, with Life After Life), a real tour de force of writing, and was rightly a NYT bestseller and award winner.

THE ACCURSED by Joyce Carol Oates: This book broke my aversion to Oates. Up until The Accursed, I never could settle into one of her books despite (ahem) being told on more than one occasion that there was a similarity between our writing styles. It's a high-wire act of a book, fearlessly written. It has everything in it: real history, good ghost stories, vampires, love stories. It's hard to write a good Gothic without veering into campiness but The Accursed manages to pull it off. And big fat props for the twist at the very end. I don't like this cover as much as the one on the hardcover and I'm not sure why the publisher switched except maybe to drive home the point that it has vampires in it.

That's far from the complete list. I'm sure I'll try to get someone to buy Sheri Holman's The Dress Lodger or Emma Donoghue's Slammerkin, two of my favorite historicals and books that I have recommended time and time again, and probably will until I die.

Okay, that's enough from me. What about you? What books are you getting for friends and loved ones this holiday season? 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

From The Descent: Elena

Venice, 1262 AD

Though Adair knew he shouldn’t encourage her, he felt pity for the girl. At his positive response, her pretty face lit up and she dropped her gloveless hand on his, so their skin touched for the first time. She might as well have set his hand on fire. After a momentary dizziness, he recalled his earlier decision—to never take a wife and be married instead to science—and opened his mouth to speak. It would be caddish to mislead her.

“Elena, there is something I must tell you, however—”

Her dark eyes widened at his words. “Oh no. You are already betrothed! Is that what you were going to say?” She clutched his arm, this time digging her fingers into his sleeve.

“No, Elena. It’s not that, not at all.” The emotion in her voice caught him off guard. With Elena, his head was clouded. She was a thing of both extraordinary liveliness and tempting softness, from the glossy dark curls on her head to the organdy tucked along the neckline of her gown. The scent of warm lavender oil rose from her bare throat. She was a beautiful little present, wrapped in silk and lace.

“Then there is no problem if you were to kiss me.” She smiled at her own daring. She lifted her chin and closed her eyes, clearly expecting him to take up her offer. He tingled with fear and desire. He had little experience kissing in passion aside from a few experiments with his cousins back in Hungary. The few whores he had known did not expect, or even particularly want, to be kissed. He tried to put these thoughts out of his mind as he looked at Elena. Why not kiss the girl? They were alone, no chaperones hovering at their side. The bishop’s footsteps echoed down the hall, but he was still a distance away.

The seconds ticking by, Adair closed his eyes and kissed her.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

From The Descent: His Own Sleeping Beauty

From The Descent:

"He looked down on Lanore, laid out like his own Sleeping Beauty, fully clothed, her blond curls spread over the pillow like twisted ribbons, her pink lips moistly parted. He watched her bare sternum rise and fall. The edge of her bra was just visible under the neckline of her dress, tempting him to touch it, to finger the lace and the soft flesh under it. She was achingly molestable."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

From The Descent: Did we carry our sins?

Did we carry our sins with us, like the chains of money boxes shackled to Jacob Marley's ghost, and if so, had I done enough good to atone for any of my sins, or had I only added more to the invisible chain I dragged behind me? I could imagine, too, how Adair felt at news of this queen, how it must've frightened him. And why he didn't want to send me into this shadowy netherworld, not wanting to draw the queen's attention; for his sins had to stretch behind him in chains so long they circled the earth; even Atlas would barely be able to stand the weight.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pre-Ordering The Descent? I have a present for you

If you pre-order The Descent, I'd like to send you a thank you gift, a magnet with one of the foreign edition covers of The Taker! To get your gift, please send proof of purchase, either forward the receipt for an online purchase or send a (readable) photo of a paper receipt (I think that you won't get receipts from online sellers until the book actually ships, but I may be wrong on this, depending on the seller.) Send to along with your mailing address and I'll send you one magnet per copy while supplies last. These are business card-sized magnets of the (l-r) Spanish, Italian, Hungarian and Czech covers. You can send me your preference and I'll try to honor it as long as supplies last. Will ship internationally.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

From The Descent: Where's the harm in a cuddle?

"I was playing solitaire with a worn, old deck of cards I'd found in a desk drawer, while Adair read, reclining on a bower of pillows on the floor. He broke from his reading to roll onto his back and cock his head in my direction, as though he was about to speak. I don't think he was aware of how very appealing he appeared at that moment, his hair loose and leonine, the first few buttons on his shirt undone to give me a peek at his chest, and his jeans twisted so they were tight across his hips. He'd thrown an arm over his face to shield his eyes against the sun but I could still see the lower half of his face, including his strong mouth, and I recalled how kissable it was. The sight of him was tempting."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

From The Descent: Death Plays Us Cruelly at the End


      Luke licked his lips. He seemed to be looking past me, as though he could no longer focus his eyes. "Lanny, I was wondering, now that I'm dying...if you had the power, would you make me like you?"
      I hated that question. It wasn't the kind of thing I would have expected from Luke, either. He'd always seemed so sensible, so down to earth. I tried not to miss a beat, however. "But I don't have the power. You know that..."
      He was impatient with my evasiveness. "That's not what I asked. I asked if you would.... You know who could make me like you. Adair. He'd do it if you asked."
      This time, I paused. Was Luke asking me to track down Adair and beg him to give me the elixir of life? It made me see Luke in a completely different light. Not only had I never suspected that he cared about living forever, I thought he would have sooner chosen death then ask me to go on his behalf to this man who frightened me so much. But death plays us cruelly at the end. "Is that what you want?" I asked, waiting.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sale on Hardcovers - Perfect for Gift-Giving

Would you like a personalized, autographed hardcover of The Taker or The Reckoning to give away this holiday season? My publisher has made copies available to me at rockbottom prices and I'm passing the discount on to you. While supplies last, you can get a hardcover of either book for only $4 + $4 shipping/handling in the US (per book). I will be sending these media rate so please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery. I will send internationally for $4 + $15 shipping/handling (per book). These are the US, English-language hardcovers. I'm doing this because I'd like to see my books make their way to as many new readers as possible, not to make any money.

I'm taking orders one way only and that's through PayPal. That's to protect both of us. To order, please use PayPal to send payment to, then email me to tell me which book you'd like, what you'd like inscribed (within reason, please) and the address to which you'd like it mailed.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Excerpt from The Descent

After Lanny has arrived at the island where Adair has gone into seclusion, only to find him living there with two women:

"Of all the rooms we passed on the second floor, only one appeared to be in use. In it, a huge feather mattress lay directly on the floor, the tangle of white sheets hinting of wanton abandon. Old Moroccan lanterns fitted with candles circled the bed, which faced a high, wide window dressed in gauzy curtains, through which you could see a panoramic view of the sea. Discarded clothing lay all over the floor, including a pale pink brassiere--Terry's, by the size of it. Two more Turkish slippers sat at odd angles to each other, as though they'd been kicked off in a burst of bad temper. Adair's unmade bed stirred something near my heart, but the casually tawdry display of the women's clothing extinguished that stirring as easily as one might squeeze out the flame on a match head.

"'Looking for something?' Robin asked, suddenly beside me, catching me gawking outside their bedroom. 'You can't have this room. It's already taken,' she said in her sharp way.

"'I didn't mean to pry, but the door was open,' I said apologetically.

"She had a funny way about her, guileless, like a child. She stared at me flatly, as though she was trying to tell what was going on in my head. 'You came here hoping to get back together with him--that's why you want to see if we're sleeping with him, isn't it?'

Heat rose up my neck and across my cheeks. 'Not at all. He's a friend. I've come to see for myself that he's happy.'

"'You've come an awful long way just for that.' She narrowed her eyes at me. 'That's not the only reason you came.'"

Win an ARC of The Descent

I know from your comments on Facebook and elsewhere that fans of The Taker books are eager to see how the trilogy concludes, and January seems so far away. I was planning to give away a copy of the ARC when the big mega Thrillerpalooza contest ends but then I thought, why wait? Let's have an instant contest for an ARC of The Descent. It starts now and closes at midnight ET on Sunday, October 13th. It's open internationally; must be 16 years old to enter. Get bonus entries for sharing it on your Facebook page and Twitter, so please spread the word and tell your friends.

As always, thanks for your support.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 3, 2013

From The Descent

I thought I'd start posting excerpts from The Descent leading up to its release in early January 2014. This is from the prologue:

"The dreams came almost every night.

"At first, I almost didn't take notice of them. When they started, Luke had been gone only a few months and I was in that black fog that follows the death of a loved one. During the day, grief would fall on me suddenly. I'd look at the clock to see that an hour had passed and yet I couldn't account for the time. Evenings were worse; I'd lie alone in the bed Luke and I had shared waiting for the night to pass. Evening meant long hours of insomnia, listlessness, fitful snatches of sleep, and the pale lavender-gray of dawn coming too soon. The occasional nightmare would do little to impress me compared to that slow hell."


Friday, September 27, 2013

Take This Survey

Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of The Descent have landed!

I need your feedback: dear readers, I'm gearing up for The Descent release in January and could use your advice. 

I remember reading many years ago that for the release of each new book, Lisa Scottline used to have a canvas tote bag made up with the cover on it and would give one to anyone who bought two or more hardcovers at one of her book events. She developed a cadre of fans who loved collecting the bags. Similarly, for years I used Clinique products because I loved getting the bonus-with purchase specials: the tiny make-up cases with samples. Even though I rarely used the little sample products, I bought Clinique religiously for YEARS because of this.

I always thought it would be fun to do something similar with my books, but I wonder if do readers care about that stuff these days?

Here's what I'm thinking: I'd give away either a mini tote bag imprinted with the full color Descent cover with every two books purchased, or a business-card sized magnet with one of the foreign book covers for every book. To get the presents, readers would have to send me proof of purchase (a photo of a paper receipt, or forward a copy of an electronic receipt). I would pay for postage and handling.

Would you like to let me know what you think?  Click here to take survey There's room in the survey to write in answers. Thank you very much!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cover Reveal!

The Descent now has covers! The one on the left is the US book, which comes out January 7, 2014. The one below right is the UK cover, and the book comes out on January 2nd.

As readers you know that covers are very, very important. Care to share what you think of these two? What these covers say to you? Do you prefer one over the other?

The US will be release in trade paperback, not hardcover. The UK edition will be coming out in the smaller paperback size. They tell me it has to do with the economy, falling book sales, etc. I get it. I do over half my sales in ebooks; I don't mind about the format change.  I hope you don't, either.

Pre-orders are always very helpful. They send a signal to the publisher. You can order the US version on Amazon here, or the UK edition here, if you care to pre-order. Shortly before the book is released, I'll have a link on my website to a local bookstore in Northern Virginia who will be stocking signed copies of my books. Also, if you'd like a signed bookplate, send me your email address at 

Right now, I'm working through the copyedited pages of The Descent. It's one of the last steps in the production process. Your editor usually gives you two weeks to go through a paper copy of the typeset pages to look for typos or make any minor last changes. At this stage, you see what the finished book will look like. It's semi-exciting.

A little over three months out from release day. I'm looking for interesting ideas to promote the book--send me your suggestions! Expect news to pick up a little bit in the coming months on the blog and Facebook. Feel free to ask any questions. And as always, your support is greatly appreciated: please tell your friends, your librarians, your local bookseller.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Congratulations to Terry C-S, winner of COVER OF SNOW. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Thrill Me, Part Two: Win COVER OF SNOW

International Thriller Writers just opened registration early for next year's ThrillerFest and so I thought it was a perfect time to give away another great book I picked up at this year's conference. We gave away TL Costa's Playing Tyler last time; this time around I'm proud to be giving away a copy of COVER OF  SNOW by Jenny Milchman. Jenny is another member of this year's debut class. Her novel came out in January to rave reviews. About the book:

Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide.

The first few hours following Nora’s devastating discovery pass for her in a blur of numbness and disbelief. Then, a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Having spent a lifetime avoiding hard truths, Nora must now start facing them.

Unraveling her late husband’s final days, Nora searches for an explanation—but finds a bewildering resistance from Brendan’s best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown . . . and its darkest secrets hidden.

Praise for Cover of Snow

“Well-defined characters take us on an emotional roller-coaster ride through the darkest night, with blinding twists and occasionally fatal turns. This is a richly woven story that not only looks at the devastating effects of suicide but also examines life in a small town and explores the complexity of marriage. Fans of Nancy Pickard, Margaret Maron, and C. J. Box will be delighted to find this new author.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Milchman reveals an intimate knowledge of the psychology of grief, along with a painterly gift for converting frozen feelings into scenes of a forbidding winter landscape.”—The New York Times
“Milchman makes [readers] feel the chill right down to their bones and casts a particularly effective mood in this stylish thriller.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Milchman tackles small-town angst where evil can simmer under the surface with a breathless energy and a feel for realistic characters.”—The Seattle Times

“The plot unfolds at an excellent clip . . . ultimately rushing headlong to a series of startling revelations.”—San Francisco Journal of Books

“Milchman expertly conveys Nora’s grief in a way that will warm hearts even in the dead of a Wedeskyull winter.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The contest runs through midnight ET on September 9th. The winner gets a hardcover copy of COVER OF SNOW with signed bookplate and some ThrillerFest swag (a mini notebook and some pens). The contest is open to USA only. Tell your friends!

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Social media news is moving!

I finally got off my lazy butt and created a separate space for Social Media News for Writers. You can head over there right now and subscribe by email if you want, so you don't miss a future issue. And I can start using this blog again for books news and, well, me news.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How much money does Amazon make from Kindle, new publishing models and more

How much money does Amazon make off the Kindle ecosystem; a new publishing model for non-fiction with cinematic appeal; being positive on social media pays off; understanding recommendation engines; and more in this week's social media news.

An interesting new publishing model that you should know about: journalists Josh Bearman, who wrote the article that the movie Argo was based on, and Joshua Davis, who has also sold film rights to a couple of his articles, recently started Epic, a site for long non-fiction pieces. But not just any articles: the two men started the site specifically to launch pieces with cinematic possibility. As reported in the NY Times, Epic is "a kind of online literary platform that will commission and publish big, nonfiction narratives that might also make good movies. They are trying to build a model for long-form journalism where the revenue generated over the entire life of a story--magazine fees, sales on and Amazon Kindle singles, ancillary film and television rights--can be used to finance the costs of reporting." Is it a new way to support long-form journalism and to find it a new audience in these times of falling newspaper and magazine readership?

Another interesting new model: an author-run publishing company. Forty science fiction and fantasy writers working together have produced and published over 200 books. Read about it in this article in Publishing Perspectives.  

Amazon is really cagey about how many Kindles and ebooks they sell. Amazon just doesn't share its data. So it's interesting to see this story on All Things D, which reports that Morgan Stanley estimates that Amazon will sell about $4.5 billion in Kindles and tablets in 2013, up 26 percent over last year. It also estimates that Amazon will do $3.7 billion in digital media services (that includes movies, games and music in addition to ebooks, don't get excited that people have suddenly become more literate) and will jump to nearly $6 billion in sales next year. Morgan Stanley estimates that the entire Kindle ecosystem contributes 23 percent to Amazon's operating profit.

"Vilifying Amazon makes no sense": No doubt about it, Amazon plays a big role in the disruption of the publishing business today. It's not as simple as good/bad. There are reasons to dislike it, to question its motives and business practices, just as there are reasons to embrace it, like it--heck, even be grateful for it. In this interview for Publishing Perspectives, Seth Godin talks about why he thinks we're in a "golden age for books" thanks, in part, to Amazon, the evolution in book selling, and the role of book stores.

Positivity helps: This bit of research bears out what you probably know intuitively: positive news on social media is more likely to be widely shared than negative or neutral information. People were more likely to share your post on Facebook or other social sites if it already had a few 'likes', too, indicating that prior ratings can create significant bias in subsequent users.

Would you join a social site for instant messaging? IMO is still in beta but you can ask to join. You can search through profiles of all the members and IM anyone who strikes your fancy. I can see where this become like a Google Hangout or a Reddit AMA: a site you can use to talk to your fans or followers. Tell them to join you on IMO at a set date and time. If you're an early adopter type, you might want to check it out.

Recommendation engines are a special kind of algorithm. These are the algorithms that make suggestions for you based on your previous viewing or buying activity. It's hard to make a good recommendation engine. Those on commerce sites are, shall we say, suspect (who knows if someone is paying a fee to have their book or product pushed to you, regardless of its applicability?) If you'd like to learn a little bit about how recommendation engines work, you might as well as learn from what most people consider the best in the business, Netflix.

Let's play the lightning round! A bunch of quick takes:

  • Instagram has a video feature similar to Vine's. How might you use it? This article in Mashable shows how some brands--Gap, Lulumon, Nowthisnews--are doing it.
  • Do you sometimes feel like Twitter is just a bunch of drive-by conversations? Looking for a better way to connect with your followers on Twitter? Nestivity is a new tool that's supposed designed to do just that. Free at the basic level, advanced levels offers the ability to do tweetcasts.
  • Facebook continues to steal strategies to boost traffic from Twitter, now encouraging celebrities to post more. The other thing they lifted are trending topics. And of course, they launched hashtags just a few months ago.
  • Mashable has launched its own book club. They say that they'll be doing mostly fiction. If you're looking for a nerdy, hipster book club this may be the place for you.
  • Itching to do business on Tumblr? It now has a blog to help you do just that: Marketr