Cash and a Cold Start

It has been an interesting couple of weeks. My book has now been out for just under three months. This means that I’m starting to get my first royalty payments. In a typically convenient moment, during a span of two hours today, I ran into two things related to the top of my mind issue I’m dealing with right now. (Reviews – Please Review On Swift Wings)

  • The first relates to a favourite cartoonist of mine, Brian Gordon, who is releasing his third book shortly. If you’re a parent, I guarantee that you’ll find his work funny. I’d definitely recommend his books. He posted about the importance of pre-orders for a struggling author. Getting pre-orders helps deal with my second related event.
  • The second came while I was working on a data science course as part of my other job, the one that keeps me from struggling. It was talking about recommender systems like those used on Netflix and Amazon, and the “Cold Start” problem, where until an item has a certain number of reviews, and a sufficient number of people have commented, recommender systems are generally incapable of recommending an item.
Cold Start
Thawing out the cold start

Anyway, I’m trying to figure out an incentive to get reviews online that doesn’t fall foul of the rules and regulations put forward by Amazon and co. I’m not allowed to buy reviews or have family review it, and I don’t intend to risk it.

The other cool thing as mentioned previously is that I got my first royalty payments this week. This is for the few pre-orders that I did receive. Since I didn’t really try to drive pre-orders on my first book, I didn’t expect or get many, but it is pretty cool to get a little money. Now I get to watch the money trickle in.

A little update on the Immortals – book #2. I’m now working again on the plan for the book. I had put it down for a couple weeks to focus on other things, but I’m back at it. I currently have about twenty pages of notes. I think I might show how data science-y I am in a subsequent post, demonstrating my tabular approach to planning, making sure that I am handling all of the themes, characters, and plotlines appropriately throughout the novel. I’ll also show some of the natural language analysis I did of the first book when it was getting close to completion, as compared to Gulliver’s Travels, particularly around sentiment analysis.

Coming Soon: Data Science and Novel Writing

Library and Immortality

On Swift Wings at my childhood library… with my child

Photo credit: Des Wiens

I took my son to the library so he could see his old man’s book for the first time. I think I was just about as excited as he was to see the book at the same library (Louise Riley) that I visited as a child. It is pretty incredible to see it there, even if my last name (Wiens) relegates the book to the furthest wall from the entrance. It is out there and people can read it whenever they want. How cool is that? Oh, and my son was the second person in the city to check out my book.

Book #2 – Working Title – Immortals

I did an author interview with Indie Book Publishing a couple months ago. The interview itself hasn’t been published yet, but something did come out of the exercise. One of the questions was who are some of your favourite characters and why. I hope I’m not stealing the wind from Indie here, but after thinking about it for a while, my answer was Ryuudrikje. I had thought about writing a second novel, but I hadn’t thought much about what I would write. With Ryu, I had already created a world with secondary characters ready, and interactions pre-established. Furthermore, I already had created some conflict and and underlying plot.

While I was on vacation these past few weeks, I thought about what I would like to say. (I’ve already said that I write with purpose, and the purpose drives the story.) I knew how I wanted the story to end, I knew some of the major events, so while we were visiting Venice and Rome, I was taking inspiration and backwards planning the second novel from my desired conclusion in my head. When we got to Imperia, and while my family was swimming in the pool, I took the backwards-planned plot from my head and wrote down the major events.

I expect the second novel to be quite different from the first. Instead of the essayist, travelogue, first-person format that was copied from Mr. Swift, I am intending to write the second novel in more of a modern fantasy format, written in the third person, with several interweaving plotlines. Readers of the first book might catch a few extra tidbits, but it will stand on its own without duplicating the content of On Swift Wings. There will be crossover, but written from an entirely different perspective, that will, I anticipate, be entertaining both to the reader and to myself in writing the story.

I would love to hear any thoughts people have about this idea. I’m not setting any deadlines for myself at this time, I have a lot of work still refining details and ensuring that the plot is interesting enough and keeping the themes in mind before I even start writing. I would be quite pleased if I could have this book written by the end of 2020, but I won’t hold myself to that schedule yet.

International Book Tour and Book 2 Progress

At a little-known stadium somewhere in Rome. Mostly just rocks and sand as far as I can tell.

Apologies for the missed post this past week. I’ve been on an international book tour to Italy and France. Of course, when I say an international book tour, I entirely mean that I spent a couple weeks sauntering about Venice, Rome, and Imperia in Italy, and Nice in France, and a bit of time on the beach in Comox, BC. I thoroughly enjoyed inhaling and absorbing the history and locales about which I’ve read and studied so much. All of the places to which we went were incredible and have proven to be a great inspiration to me. So cool to visit three places so geographically close but so extensively different and unique. Every time I travel, my world grows and I feel a much better person for it. I hope that the inspiration I’ve received will reflect in my upcoming works.

It wasn’t all fun and games, I did get down to work and have prepared the storyboard for my second novel. I have prepared character profiles, elaborated upon the setting, and prepared the major plot markers. Alright, I admit, this is fun and games, as my wife tends to point out. Every time I figure out something clever, or funny, or I advance a key plot, I am pleased as punch to go cryptically tell her what I’ve thought up.

I’ll talk a bit about the plan for the upcoming novel next week. I intend for it to be quite different from the first in many ways, but similar in others. I’m going to take my time to plan it all very carefully to ensure the highest quality work of which I’m capable.

Thank you for reading my blog, I hope you’re enjoying On Swift Wings. On that front, I received some news that Indigo is going to put a number of copies on their shelves at Chinook and Crowfoot, and I will likely do a book signing there in the coming weeks. (More on that to come.) A few informal reviews have begun to trickle in, but nothing yet on any review site like Amazon, Indigo, GoodReads, etc. Generally people are saying that it is challenging but rewarding, and the satire is well done. I am really looking forward to hearing and reading more feedback to help with the planning of the second novel.

BW