nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

new book in the Meniscus Science Fiction Series available today!

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The next book in the Meniscus Science Fiction Series is out today in paperback! The e-book will be available within the week.

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Meniscus: The Struggle continues the story of Abra who is trying to decipher a mysterious Dock-winder document. Abra believes the information in the manuscript will enable Humans to overcome their nasty alien overlords. Abra continues her work with the help of old friends from Themble Hill: Odymn, Tagret, Zachary and, yes, the annoying Dock-winder child, Don’est. And we learn more about her new friend, Drag’on of the Hooplore, who will be at her side through the adventure.

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Meniscus: The Struggle is available in paperback form at Amazon today (just click here). And I will have copies by the end of August. I will be launching the book at Dog-Eared Books in Oromocto: just watch for announcements. Dog-Eared Books and Westminster Books in Fredericton have copies of other books in the Series if you’d like to catch up. Book One (Crossing The Churn), Book Six (Oral Traditions) and Book Ten (Rosetta Stone) are good places to dive in to the story.

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Read on!

All my best!

Jane (a.k.a. Alexandra)

Written by jane tims

July 31, 2022 at 11:06 am

another book, another cover

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True to my mantra of having multiple projects on the go at one time, I have been quietly working on a new book, of the genealogical variety. The book, titled Ella: 1859-1933, is an historical account of my great-grandmother’s life, revealed through family stories, Census and City Directory records, military and other official government records, and study of other genealogical sources (I have blogged before about my great-grandmother https://janetims.com/?s=Ella+Norman+). Much of the information is the result of study by Dr. Jane Margaret Norman, my aunt, who began looking for evidence of Ella’s life in the 1970s and found out most of the known information on Ella’s life. The book will be of interest to Ella’s descendants and others in the Hawk and Kresge lineage.

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Ella (Hawk) Norman

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A Brief Synopsis of the Book:

Ella Hawk (her maternal grandfather was a Kresge) was born in 1859 to a Pennsylvania German family. When she became an adult, she followed the path of many who felt the lure of the West. By 1880, she lived in Laramie, Wyoming where, in 1886, she met and married Frank Norman. She had one son, Leo, and lived in the West for another 24 years. In 1911, she returned to Pennsylvania to live with her mother and sister. Her son served in the navy and eventually met and married Katie Clark, a trained nurse. In 1927, Katie returned to Canada to raise her young family. Katie and Leo were my grandmother and grandfather.

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The book includes a detailed presentation of these events, as well as the genealogical references. I will also include three poems as a memorial to Ella’s family and the account of a trip we took to Wyoming to see where Ella and Frank were married.

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my grandfather, Leo Norman, Ella’s son

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Book Cover:

I include two references to flowers in the book, to red poppies, and pink and blue columbines. So I decided early to include these flowers on the cover of the book. I also wanted to show Ella on the cover but as a silhouette, walking in the garden. I know, from my Uncle Francis’ memories, she wore wide-brimmed hats, so the figure will be wearing such a hat.

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Proof cover- a photo of the columbines in my own yard show roughly what I want for the final cover

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At first, I painted apple trees in the background, but the symbolism of the trees escaped me. So I removed the trees and added a scene from the Laramie area, featuring the nearby mountains (the Snowy Range), and a suggestion of foothills and plain. Now the silhouette of ‘Ella’ looks from her garden in the East towards the West. My uncle (her grandson) told me she never forgot the West and wished to return some day.

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I completed the basic elements of the cover painting in one sitting. But a lot was left to be done: layers of colour to be added and detail in the mountains and flowers. My main objective was to add colour in such a way to make the poppies appear far away and the columbines close by.

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Colour will do this. In general, cool colours (like red) look far away and warm colours (like blue) appear nearby. This generality is modified by the tone (darkness or lightness) of the colour: dark colours appear to get closer while pale colours appear to recede. Saturation of colour will also affect its appearance of advancing or receding: a pure colour will appear nearer; adding a bit of another colour will cause it to recede.

for more information on colour in art, see How Colors Advance and Recede in Art Science of Colour.

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first layer of painting

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second layer of painting – mountains, poppies, figure and leaves have been retouched

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The final painting: I added colour to flowers and leaves and a lighter green to the foreground.

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the final cover

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I will revisit the cover design in about a week, and perhaps tweak the border colour and other aspects. let me know what you think.

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All my best!!!!

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 30, 2022 at 7:03 pm

Posted in family history

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A botanical life list first

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Today, we drove to St. Stephen from our home near Fredericton (New Brunswick). We traveled some back roads, getting some great glimpses of the St, Croix River. The St. Croix is an international waterway, so when we look across the river, we see the United States.

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Along one stream in the drainage, we found a beyond-bright red flower I knew right away but have never seen except in photos.

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The cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) was one of the first flowers I read about when I moved to New Brunswick, but this is the first time I have seen it in bloom.

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The red colour is so bright against the darker colours of the water and leaves. The plant is pollinated by hummingbirds.

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In New Brunswick, the cardinal flower grows in wet areas, along shores and on rocky islands in streams.

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The plant is about a half-metre or more in height and bears its flowers in terminal spikes. The flower has three spreading lower petals and two upper petals; all are united into a tube at the base. The stem is erect with pointed elliptical leaves.

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Like birders, most botanists keep track of the plants they know and have seen in the field. I am delighted to add this to my list of known plants!

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Have a great day! Stay cool!

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 22, 2022 at 8:22 pm

A Book Club: a new experience for me

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I love to read. For years I have considered joining a book club. To meet with like-minded people, to delve deep into the elements of a book, to experience a new way of considering the merits of a book – these all seemed to be good reasons for participating in a gathering dedicated to reading of a book.

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This past week, I had my chance. Our new local book store, Dog Eared Books, in Oromocto, has organized a book club event featuring a book by my friend and admired author Alexa Bowie. The book — Death Between the Walls.

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I have read the book before, about a year ago, but I wanted to be knowledgeable, so I re-read the book the day of the meeting. So enjoyable to dedicate a whole day to reading!!!! Not a hard book to read in one sitting since it is engaging and hard to put down. I love the main character and her ‘relationship’ with her long-dead father. I also like the setting, in New Brunswick, in the area of Miramichi.

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I read a little, on-line, about what to expect at an author-led book club. The best questions to get discussion going abound on the web. See https://wondermomwannabe.com/book-club-questions/ for 50 Great Book Club Questions for a Meaningful Discussion.

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A simple way to approach a book club discussion is in terms of the 5 Ws: Who, What, Where, When and Why; add to this, How. In terms of the book: characters, subject matter, setting, year and season, motivation, and means. Each of these categories can be broken down into positives and negatives; for example, which character do you like/dislike the most. As a writer, I am also interested in how the story and plot unfold.

Story and plot may seem similar but:

  • story is the who, what and where
  • plot is the when, why and how.

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How it went:

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Eight people met at Dog Eared Books. Lots of room, iced tea and baked goodies. Introductions, all around. The discussion was fun, informal. The author is a great facilitator and everyone got a chance to talk.

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We learned a lot about the writing process, what idea leads to telling a story and how subsequent ideas get incorporated. The author told us about the two main approaches to writing: plotting and pants-ing. The first can be very prescriptive and involves lots of planning and characterization. The second is ‘by the seat of the pants,’ following the whims of the characters and the dictations of the setting. Death Between the Walls was mostly written using this second method.

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The group ended with a book-signing and a promise to get together again, once a month on a Friday evening at 6:30. We will keep in touch using a Facebook group and vote to select a new book from one of the genres.

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I’ll let you know how it goes.

All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 18, 2022 at 7:00 pm

Meniscus Science Fiction Series: the extras

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As I write the Meniscus Science Fiction Series, a very enjoyable task is to update the extras in each book:

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Ancient Argenop Wisdom: every book includes an associated line of ancient Argenop wisdom. The Argenops are the gentle rodent-like aliens who befriend the Humans. They became separated from the Dock-winders, in history and sentiment, when geology (The Fault) divided En’ast from Themble. I plan to do a full book collecting the wisdom of the ancient Argenops.

‘Rafters’ is the home Daniel, the Slain, built in the woodland

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The Meniscus Solar System: This is a fairly recent edition to the books. A representation of the solar system of Meniscus includes: the two suns (Tathlet and Amblyn), the planets (Aagle, Meniscus, Di-natha and Sel), and the Meniscus moons (Cardoth roe and Cardoth grill-en).

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This is Meniscus, a planet far from Earth: this is an introductory bit, meant to introduce readers of every book to some background information about the planet Meniscus. The text includes the odd behavior of water on the planet, a description of the landscape, the various aliens encountered, and a short history of the Slain. Oddly, this is the section I have occasionally forgotten to include in every book.

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The Maps: Producing the maps of the planet Meniscus is essential to the writing since the stories are chronicles of the Human travels through the landscape. I produce the maps in GIMP, so I am able to highlight certain features of interest to a particular book. I also include a dotted line showing the path of the travels of the main characters. At first, only the east and west maps for Prell-nan South District were shown. As the adventure expanded, maps for east and west halves of Prell-nan North District were included. In the upcoming adventure Meniscus: The Reckoning, readers will see El’ban District, often mentioned in the earlier books.

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Map of Prell-nan
North District
(West Half)

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The Cast of Characters: I include all of the characters in the Series, whether they occur in the current book or not. The notes on the characters are meant to explore a brief history of each character: Human, Slain, Argenop, Dock-winder, Gel-head, and Others, including the pets. This section was added to books after …. at the suggestion of one of my terrific beta-readers.

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Glossary: Various unfamiliar words used by Humans in the story are explained here. They include measurements, names of plant and animal life, and items found on the planet of Meniscus. Some of these are names borrowed from the local aliens, and others are names the Humans have devised for various items, based on their experience on Earth or with other Humans.

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arbel  
                    nodding woodland flower
corms edible

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A Condensed Guide to Gel-speak: The dictionary, at first short, has grown with each book – there are now 180 words in the Gel-speak dictionary. Although most Gel-speak is translated right in the text, readers may like to find out how an idea is expressed in Gel-speak as the translation is not literal. So ‘genetic material’ is translated as ath-elan-elana, literally ‘body memory.’

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The next book in the Series, Meniscus: The Struggle will be released in the next couple of weeks. I am looking forward to having a release and book signing in August, details to be announced here.

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If you haven’t read any of the Meniscus books, there are a couple of places to jump in to the action:

Meniscus: Crossing the Churn

Meniscus: Oral Traditions

Meniscus: Rosetta Stone

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All my best,

keep reading!

Alexandra, a.k.a. Jane

Written by jane tims

July 15, 2022 at 7:00 am

Book Review: Jan Fancy Hull’s new Tim Brown Mystery

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February: Curious by Jan Fancy Hull (Moose House, 2022)

February: Curious is a delightful walk through another month of a year-long sabbatical with newspaper editor Tim Brown. Enjoy Tim’s thought process as he prepares to delve into the intricacies of rural life in Nova Scotia. Although he plans and thinks more that he actually does, Tim is able to discover a mysterious problem and find a solution that assists the victim, a young man in need of a mentor, and the entire community. I love his approach to plotting his daily activities and overcoming his troubles—maintaining a household, outfitting a new office space, deciding what to wear. All the old friends are back—Stella, and her perils of politics, and Robert and his coaching of the choir. In spite of being on sabbatical, Tim works with the temporary editor to improve the newspaper in ways he would not have done when he worked full time. 

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Looking forward to the next book – March: Enigma.

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All my best!

Go find a cozy corner and read a book!

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 13, 2022 at 5:15 pm

Book Covers: from sketch to design

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In producing my science fiction books, one of the many tasks is to produce a book cover for each book. I could hire this step out, but I made a decision early in my author experience to feature both my art and writing in producing my books.

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There are ten (soon to be eleven) books in the Meniscus Science Fiction Series. Once I decided on the design for the first book (Meniscus: Crossing The Churn), I knew I wanted all the books in the series to follow a similar cover pattern. I liked the format of a single block showing the cover art and the general placement of title, volume number and author’s name. I also wanted all the cover art to show the two Meniscus moons (Cardoth-roe, the big moon, and Cardoth-grill’en, the little moon) and the characters in the book in silhouette.

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Creating a book cover takes four main steps.

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Step One is to consider how I want to present the book and what themes could be displayed.

Step Two is to do a black and white drawing of the cover.

Step Three is to do an acrylic painting of the drawing.

Step Four is to create a cover for the book, to be up-loaded to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for both paperback and e-book editions.

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The only cover to depart from the pattern (no drawing was produced that led to the cover), was Book Seven, Meniscus: Encounter with the Emenpod. Here are the drawings and final covers for all the books after the first:

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There is one other book, Meniscus: One Point Five – Forty Missing Days, that should be shown. Its cover came from a painting done to welcome people to my sales table at various book fairs.

All my best,

Jane ( a.k.a. Alexandra)

Written by jane tims

July 13, 2022 at 7:00 am

next Authors Coffee House

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Mark Thursday July 21 in your calendar and join us for an author reading and lots of writerly discussion. Eric will perform some of his poetry and I will read from my new book in the Kaye Eliot Mystery Series. In the book, Kaye and her family travel the Noel Shore of Nova Scotia to track down a story told in windows of stained glass. ‘Stained Glass’ is the fourth in the Series. It would be great to see you there. Our efforts will benefit the New Maryland Heritage Association and the restoration of the 1864 Saint Mary the Virgin Anglican Church.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 11, 2022 at 11:24 am

the input of my editor

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I have had one editor since the beginning of the Meniscus science fiction series. My editor is Lee Thompson of Lee Thompson Editing + ... his business headline says: ‘editorial and design services to help you navigate the word’ … for me the words ‘help’ and ‘word’ say what Lee’s guidance is all about.

https://leethompsonediting.com

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Lee has guided me through eleven books, challenging me to think deeply about the world of planet Meniscus. He has asked me if the dog-like Kotildi would ‘bark’ on an alien world. He has pointed out places where my poetic voice gets off-track. He always finds the places where I repeat words within a paragraph or stanza. He points out gaps in the action or logic. He tells me where he sees wobbles in my ‘Point of View.’ And his edits are delivered in a way that I laugh more often than I scowl.

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Speaking of scowling, Lee says my consistent flaw is that my characters ‘frown’ almost more often than they breathe.

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They frown …

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and frown …

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and frown …

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Lee says I am no longer allowed to use the word ‘frown’ in my books. I have ‘TTF’ (Tendency to Frown).

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Thanks to Lee, I frown less. Obtaining the services of a professional editor is one of the most important steps a writer can take. The best is to hire a great editor who will understand what you are trying to do and get you to see your own writing in a new way.

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All my best,

Alexandra (a.k.a. Jane)

Written by jane tims

June 26, 2022 at 7:22 pm

summer drive

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We are so lucky to live in New Brunswick. Driving down any road is a kaleidoscope of flowers, especially in June. We have green hills, streams and rivers gushing after our recent rains and lots of wild life to see. And we have river ferries!!!!

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Today we drove home from our camp by way of the Gagetown ferry. It’s only been operating a few days but we have ridden the ferry so many times it feels like a cruise on the river.

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In the Gagetown area, there are lots of osprey nests to see. This time of year there is usually at least one adult, sometimes two, feeding young chicks.

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We do not have road runners, but we have road crossers. Last week we watched as an American bittern ran across the road, its neck stretched forward parallel to the ground as it ran. Today we saw a woodcock walking slowly across the road, not concerned in the least about the truck or the photographer. Unfortunately, the photographer lacks skill but you can see the woodcock’s short legs and his long beak over his right shoulder …

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And, this week, there are the roses (Rosa spp.), pink and fragrant. Some with a single whorl of five petals. Some doubled and redoubled.

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And other flowers:

bladder campion or maidenstears (Silene vulgaris), with deeply-notched petals and red-veined inflated calyx …

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bedstraw (Galium sp.) grows in mounds in the ditches, with leaves in whorls and white flowers …

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and lupins (Lupinus sp.), crowding the ditches in pink, blue and purple and occasionally white, already setting seed …

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Looking forward to many drives this summer. I know that gasoline is expensive, but this is my entertainment of choice.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 23, 2022 at 5:19 pm

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