Amazon, Goodreads, and eBook giveaways

Now that readers and authors have had some time to come to terms with the news of Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads, I’ve been thinking of ways this turn of events could end up benefiting both readers and authors. One idea seems like a no-brainer: eBook giveaways.

It’s no secret that GoodReads giveaways are a useful tool in the publishers toolbox. It’s a proven method for getting attention and finding new readers, for big publishers and indie publishers alike. But currently, if you’re an author focusing on digital releases and you don’t have any physical books to offer, GoodReads giveaways aren’t available. They only allow physical books.

With Amazon at the helm, this could change. That would be a very welcome change for indie publishers who aren’t quite ready to take the paper book plunge. Amazon could even build in a system that helps authors promote their KDP free days, which could be a powerful new tool to help self-publishers get exposure.

I’m also hoping that the GoodReads acquisition leads to some integration between Amazon sales pages and GoodReads ads. Right now, I can only track clicks on my GoodReads ads, but if I could tell exactly how many sales were coming from those ads I’d have extremely useful information to help me shape my ad campaigns.


Clockworkers: Excerpt 1

My new novel Clockworkers is coming out soon!

Here’s the plot in a nutshell: an entrepreneurial young woman inherits a special gift from her father – an elf. She puts him to work building products for her luxury watch company, but she soon discovers that there are certain dangers involved with employing elves.

Here’s a sample:

Sam Chablon, a prudent but insatiably curious man, walked gingerly across the frozen glade. It was just before sunrise, the blue hour, and the only sounds in the forest were the whispers of the wind.

Sam was stalking his latest prey. He had waited for three nights to catch even a glimpse of it, but this morning his patience had paid off. He saw the little fellow dance into a cave on the north shore of the lake.

He continued his approach at a painfully slow pace. Each step took an eternity. He was careful not to let even a single blade of grass betray his presence. He barely breathed, and he willed his excited body to stay cool, lest his quarry catch a whiff of his sweat.

He finally reached the entrance to the cave and a sweet, warm wind caressed his face, melting the ice crystals on the scraggly beard that had grown during his stay in these woods. There was a faint light in there — a white-green glow that made the rocky walls of the cave shine. With the care of a barefooted man walking on eggshells, he went inside.

The cave was deep, and its ceiling was low for a man of Sam’s height. His middle-aged knees protested when he was forced to stoop down as he tiptoed further into the cavern. But the pain was worth it. This kind of opportunity rarely happens twice.

Sam went deeper still, until the odor of the outside world was erased by a bittersweet perfume of jasmine and thyme and other fragrances he wished he knew the names of. The ghostly greenish light that he had seen earlier was now much brighter. The source was just around the bend. Sam paused. He held his breath, and carefully peered past the corner.

His eyes fell on the one thing he had searched for since his childhood: the final proof that validated years of foraging, travel, and the eccentric research that had left him ostracized and ridiculed. There, in that cave, was his dream.

An elf.

Origin story

I’m continuing along with the sci-fi novella. Here’s a little side story on its origins. It’s actually based on the first original novel I ever attempted. But it was definitely a “practice” novel (which I believe is very important for an author just starting out). The resulting story just…wasn’t very good. But I learned a lot, shelved that book, and went on to write 3 other novels that were light years beyond that first practice attempt. Still, there were some good ideas there; I just wasn’t a good enough writer to execute those ideas. Now, years later, I think I have the skills to pull a good story out of that crap I wrote back in the day. If all goes well it will be done by end of April 😉

Turning 33

Today is my 33rd birthday.

It’s a palindromic year (same number forwards or backwards), and I dare say that it will be the best of my palindromic years. 11 was okay, but my adulthood has been far more fun than my childhood. 22 wasn’t bad, but I spent much of my early twenties being a workaholic and missing out on the stupid things I should have been doing. But 33…ah that’s a different story. This is the best of all. Better than 22, and better than 44 (probably…we’ll see).

Last year there was a dubious study by some website that said that 33 is the happiest age. At the moment I’d be inclined to agree with its findings. In the past few years I have:

  • finished 3 novels (two of them currently published, another soon)
  • traveled to Europe and Asia multiple times
  • worked on some really cool technology projects
  • loved, and lost, and loved again
  • gotten into the best physical shape of my life
  • worked mostly from home
  • written hundreds of articles and been quoted in countless Wikipedia pages
  • acquired a large group of amazing friends who seem to like me for some reason

I think it’s safe to say I’m hitting my stride.

Still, there is the unavoidable feeling of age creeping up on me. Injuries don’t heal as fast. My right knee feels a little tight sometimes. Half my brother’s children are adults. My Facebook news feed frequently has announcements of babies being born to friends I knew in my teens. I think of past events that seem fresh and recent, only to realize that they happened a decade ago.

Overall, I’m happy…supremely happy. And I’m still “young” compared to half the people I know, and I know those very same people would laugh at this post and say I’ve got a whole lot of aging to come still. But I also cannot ignore the fact that a good portion of the people I know consider me “older”. That’s just two letters from “old”, folks.

Do I fear aging? Naw, not at all. It’s just another adventure in the journey of life (and I think I’m aging rather gracefully, all things considered). But I do find myself keenly aware that things are getting different. It feels like there’s an inflection point coming up; a point of no return…a transition where youth is just a memory. It’s not scary; it’s just so different. I have always been young. I know nothing else. But there will come a point when I no longer will be, and until now that was just an abstract concept to me. It’s slowly becoming a reality, and I’m observing this transition with a sharp awareness. It makes for good writing material.

I’m going to spend my birthday weekend being silly and doing more ridiculous things I never got to do at 22. And I will revel in all the benefits that maturity, stability, and wisdom have brought me. And when the hangovers are gone and the last “Happy Birthday!” wishes have been shouted with glee, I’ll return to my normal, wonderful life and continue to make the most of every day of youth I still have left.