Tag Archives: dystopian

Writer’s Log: 1790 Sentiment Cycle

Ready for maths? No? Well, how about pictures?


Nice, Mole, what are we looking at?

What you see before you is a word sentiment chart of The Gribble’s Eye plotted over the length of the story. This was created using some “R” code and the libraries offered by the professor behind http://www.archerjockers.com/

The pair of people behind the book The Bestseller Code used such code to allow them to grade and understand the so-called literary market: https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Bestseller_Code.html?id=4fXUDAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q&f=false

I took their code and ran my second, wee novel through it. And that picture is what the code produced.

Sentiment goes up and down. Happy and gay and positive. Sad, angry, loathsome and negative. Good books have a signature sine wave of sentiment. Marketable books have this even more.

Now, mine is neither good nor marketable, but, it’s interesting to note that there is a definite pattern to the story: We start up, then down, up, down, and end on a big UP!

Whee! What a ride.

You want to do this for your own story? Sure. Here’s the R code:

setwd("C:\\Documents and Settings\\MeTheUser\\Desktop\\")
text <- get_text_as_string("YOURBOOK.txt")
s_v <- get_sentences(text)
raw_values <- get_sentiment(s_v, method = "syuzhet")
dct_vals <- get_dct_transform(raw_values)
simple_plot(raw_values, title = "TITLE OF BOOK", legend_pos = "top", lps = 20, window = 0.05)

You’ll have to struggle with installing the supporting modules — but, hey! You’re smart. You can figure it out.

(If you can’t, send me your story text — just words — and I’ll run them through this bit of code for you.)

Cover: The Gribble’s Eye


I’m on the lookout for a cover concept. The Gribble’s Eye is “draft-ready” but we’re still working up the 50+ illustrations: 25 done, 25 more to do. This is the story of a teenage girl and her 20-something tutor and a couple of Greek myths who serendipitously team up to fight the minions of Chaos. The story takes place in northeast England and Scotland (Series #1).

(If anyone would like to volunteer as a beta reader — Widowcranky was gracious enough to have read it thus far — let me know.)



The covers (two so far) have sucked. I’m just not getting the idea-waves blasting through. This was the first cover (Yulian drew it and I hacked at it with crayons (photoshop) — but who could tell):







The second cover, both Widow and Yulian shot down with a .50 cal. BAR.

So, ideas? Live action YA covers seem popular these days (a photo with scenery/costumes later touched up with dramatic light/shading/text).

I’m open to any suggestions.



Third effort. This one after I discussed the options with the artist and Phil H. So, I went out back and with a hammer and screwdriver and chiseled an eye into the patio concrete. Then I found a blue sapphire marble on the net and copied it in with editing and such. It’s a first pass effort. But I think this might work.


Blue Across the Sea: Intro

Here’s the first few thousand words of what my copy-editor and I call BATS.


Sample back-cover verbiage:

A raging storm threatens as Tillion sets out alone to fish the sea for their means of trade. Regretfully, his sister must remain with their father, a broken, untrustworthy man. ‘Fill the barrels and return’, Tillion tells himself. But the sea’s waves and the whims of the storm have other plans, insistent plans; wreck his boat and toss him out to drift, as he may, North into the hands of the Blues and their righteous sense of justice.

Seka and Warruf discover him, stranded on the beach, a meal for a pack of wild dogs. With well aimed arrows drawn by blue arms, the blue of solidarity, they scatter the pack, saving the lad. “Your ship is wrecked, you’ll die alone. Come with us,” they implore.



Civilization: how thy collapse?

Depending on the mechanism of the apocalypse, the end of civilization would occur in vastly different ways.

Here’s a recent video sponsored by the Royal Institution and conducted by Dr. Lewis Dartnell (of The Knowledge fame).



It’s of pretty standard apocalyptic fare, but there are a few standout notions posed by the panel and audience.

The first is asked by the astrophysicist: How would society change, today, if we discovered that in thirty years an unavoidable asteroid (of ELE size) was destined for Earth? That delay, thirty years, really made me think. Obviously, everybody 70 and older wouldn’t really care, personally. They would, though, work to save their descendants. But aside from who would care, and for what reason, what, if any change would occur in society — tomorrow? What would you change in your life, right now, knowing in thirty years the end of the world was guaranteed?

Another notion, proposed by the generalist, was that in a catastrophic event, like my favorite topic, a CME (coronal mass ejection – and the end of the electrical grid), that there are billions of food animals (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and turkeys) that would be available for months after the “end of food.” His theory, which sounded silly, but he confessed it was considered by those who plan for such things, was that humans would be eating burgers for months, but that the lack of ketchup would be part of the critical path of survival. He quipped that there was a National Strategic Condiment Reserve created to store enough ketchup and mustard to ensure that people could continue to enjoy their quarter-pounders.

The third notion that I thought curious was the topic of what goes first? Do people die out quickly (a pandemic, or nuclear, volcanic or asteroid induced winter) or do people survive and their infrastructure fails them (a CME or a nano bot revolt or AI take over).

Generally speaking, civilizations don’t collapse quickly. Jared Diamond’s Collapse, explored the various failures over the last few millennia and, for the most part, things come apart slowly but determinedly. Politics, food, resources, strife, elitists vs plebes, all contribute, over tens if not hundreds of years, to destroy a civilization.

The apocalypse, however, would tend to speed things up.

Mentioned in the second half of the video, is the book Paradise built in Hell, which explores the altruistic fallout during specific calamitous occurrences. That — we are our brother’s keeper — that people, over all, tend to jump in to save each other in times of catastrophe.

This may be true for localized events; single areas, nations or even regions (Hurricane Katrina, the 2011 Sendai earthquake, or the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004). But where I think this fails us, and this is the base theory for this post, is the following:

When we feel secure in our own lives we feel empowered to help others. Even if we ourselves are inundated by chaos, if we know that the province, country or world remains stable — outside of our ongoing criticality — then extending ourselves to our neighbors can be substantiated; we know others will be there to pickup the slack. That, knowing we do not risk everything, we feel empowered to help those in need.

But what happens when, deep in our souls, we know no one else will be there to help us out of our own disastrous situation? When we know that the entire world is under siege? That we know that help IS-NOT-COMING. How will we react then?

Does civilization fail when the realization that THIS-IS-IT penetrates our thinking? Do we resort then to protecting our own, abandoning our neighbors, our jobs of assistance? What would you do if you knew your family, your loved ones were also under attack — but your job, your duty, was to stay here and fight for and protect these folks? Would you stay? Or would you admit that, “hey, I have to get back to my OWN family who needs me.”?

Shadow Shoals 1.5 end of part one

This concludes Part One of Shadow Shoals at 17,000 words.

Shadow Shoals 1.5: https://goo.gl/a71Nmr

I figure by perhaps the end of my fourth novel (this is #3) I’ll have honed my skills to the point where my work becomes publishable. Until then, I hold no delusions.

In the mean time, writing keeps me busy. It costs nothing as a hobby. And, you’ll be taken aback to learn, my 76 year old mother is my copy editor, with whom I’ve had the best time working on these projects, reestablishing ancient bonds, as it were.


Shadow Shoals 1.4

Another 4k words. About a 15 minute read time. The story sits at 14k words now which is about 1/6 of a novel. The characters are established. Time to speed up the clock, heal, collect ourselves and jump into the next conflict.

Shadow Shoals 1.4: https://goo.gl/2QDMsi

1.3: https://goo.gl/YiY8Zr
1.2: https://goo.gl/tSbWXJ
1.1: https://goo.gl/x1cWtS


Writer’s Log: 1333

“Where is fancy bred? In the heart or in the head?”

I love Gene Wilder’s Willie Wonka. It is, in fact, my favorite movie. But of course, this quote comes from Shakespeare (whom I despise).

“Tell me, where is fancy bred? In the heart or in the head?” — The Merchant of Venice

[I don’t actually “despise” Bill Shakespeare. I recognize that he created many words we find useful in English today. I do find the imposition of teaching — ADULT PLAYS that are SPOKEN aloud to an ADULT audience — to teenagers to be an egregious breach of teacher-student trust! (I fucking hated Shakespeare during high school.)]

But that’s not why I’m here.

From whence do ideas spawn? Dreams? Recombinant cultural memes? The twisting of personal history, desires, regrets and failures? From the influx of a constant stream of media tropes? A blended mishmash of everything and nothing? Regardless, here’s the beginning of my next writing effort, bred, indeed, from the heart and mind (and soul?): Shadow Shoals.