nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘Meniscus’ Category

next book in the Meniscus Series: the Gel-head dictionary

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From the beginning, I have included an alien language dictionary at the end of my science fiction books. Gel-speak is the common language on the planet Meniscus. Many of my Human characters speak a little Gel-speak; the genetically-altered Humans, the Slain, speak it fluently. In each book, there are lines of Gel-speak, usually translated, occasionally not.

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The Gel-speak language originates with the Gel-heads, the most maligned of the aliens on Meniscus. The intelligent Dock-winders also have a language but it is not spoken in the presence of other species.

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By the eighth book, I have added to the dictionary until there are 170 words.

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The Gel-speak language has a grammar, or set of rules governing the words and their order. There are verbs and nouns, articles and adjectives. The Gel-speak language includes many of the same sounds as English and includes a ‘click’ at the end of certain words. Any linguists among you are now laughing.

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So, with the dictionary, you can count in Gel-speak to five:

u-hath – one

ull – two

undel – three

urth – four

v-hath – five

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Gel-speak words have ‘roots’ and build on one-another. For example, here are words associated with the female gender:

ora – light

ora-nee – home

ora-nell – female

ora-nell-elan – mother

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or, with the idea of sharing a hearth:

parelan – family

parennel – friend

pargath – hearth

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OK linguists, you can stop laughing now. This is fiction, after all.

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Want a look at the entire dictionary? Have a look at the books in the Meniscus Series, beginning here.

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`chased by a Gel-head`part two

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All my best,

staying home (ora-nee),

and staying in my two-family (ull-paralan) bubble,

Jane

Written by jane tims

May 13, 2020 at 7:00 am

next book in the Meniscus Series: the illustrations

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For the last two days, I have been in a drawing mood. Not many authors illustrate their books (not including those who work on graphic novels), but I love this part of the process.

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I have had lots of discussions with readers about the right and wrong of illustrating. Some think it takes away from the reader’s wonderful ability to imagine characters and scenes. Others think the illustrations take a reader deeper into the author’s intentions. As an author, I think drawings help get my ideas across. Since my books are told as narrative poetry, my words tend to be vary spare and I think of the drawings as extensions of the narrative.

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I include two types of drawings in my books: portraits of the characters and sketches of the action.

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The portraits are useful to me as a writer. They help fix the character’s face so the image does not migrate from book to book. I am really proud of the portraits and looking at them inspires my writing.

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I am also proud of some of my drawings of scenes from my books. When the drawing is close to the idea I want to portray, sometimes it suggests new details in the text. Some drawings are not so good but I rarely re-draw. Instead, I think of these as representative of the weirdness of planet Meniscus. It reminds me of a line from my favorite TV show Lost. Daniel Faraday, on his first visit to the island says,

The light… it’s strange out here, isn’t it? It’s kind of like, it doesn’t, it doesn’t scatter quite right.”

On Meniscus, the pencil doesn’t behave quite right.

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In every book, there are 23 +/- 4 drawings. Some are portraits or repeats of earlier scenes. Today, I did two drawings, both unique to Meniscus: The Knife.

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All my best,

staying home

and staying in my two-family bubble,

Jane

Written by jane tims

May 11, 2020 at 7:00 am

next book in the Meniscus Series: the Cast of Characters

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Other writers often ask me about the use of a beta reader. Of course, I value their input and listen carefully to any suggestions about the book they have just read for me. In a series like Meniscus, the suggestions of the beta reader often help me more with the next book. Sometimes the suggestion has to do with the storyline or a particular character. Sometimes it is a suggestion that becomes integral to the whole series.

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When she read Book Two of the Series, Meniscus: South from Sintha, my beta reader Carol suggested adding a short description of each character in a compendium at the end of each book. I began to do this for the next book and now every book has a Cast of Characters.

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Since some of my characters are aliens, I group the characters as Humans, Argenops (benevolent furry creatures), Dock-winders (self-serving overlords), Gel-heads (unlikeable minions), and Others (animal companions and other sentient aliens).

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In the Cast of Characters I include information on the character’s role in the story, the character’s age, where the character lived on Earth, what they were doing when the Dock-winders harvested them, what Earth year they were taken, their occupation on Earth, their occupation on Meniscus and sometimes their motivation, faults or wants.

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Here is an example, a character description of Zachary, a carpenter and an important citizen of Themble Hill:

Zachary – survivor of the transport crash; 46 one-suns old; harvested by the Dock-winders in 2008 when he worked as a carpenter with his father’s company in Fargo, North Dakota; educated as an engineer; harvested as he made repairs to a roof during a wind storm; used by the Dock-winders as the laser-sawyer in a grammid mill; spent most of grad school playing Sonic the Hedgehog ™ and eating pickled eggs in the campus grad house.

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Sometimes I wish I could change the character description a bit to suit the story, but I try not to do that. I also include all of the characters mentioned in all of the books to date although they may not appear in the current book. So far, I have 41 characters, major and minor, who have appeared in the various books.

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All my best,

staying home and keeping in my two-family bubble,

Jane

Written by jane tims

May 8, 2020 at 7:00 am

next book in the Meniscus Series: the maps

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One day in 2016, when I was first deciding how I would put the Meniscus books together, I puzzled over how I would make the maps I wanted to include in each book.

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At first, I wanted to produce hand-drawn maps, re-drawing each map and making erasures and changes as each book advanced the story. Every book would need adjustments to the map and a new dotted ‘trail’ to show the path my characters followed.

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The idea of hand-drawn maps ended when I found out how boring it would be to draw the 300 trees in the Themble Wood.

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I didn’t know a thing about digital image creation. So I went on line and found GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program … what a great place to learn the craft of making maps!  https://www.gimp.org/

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Now, four years later, I have not needed to move from GIMP. First I learned how to make trees …. in quantity and with shadows! There are three kinds of tree on Meniscus: grammid, yarnel and banyan:

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Once I had trees all across my maps, I added the geological features I knew were essential for world-building: in the first book of the Meniscus Series I wanted (left to right) a gully, a line of huge burrows, a fault (and high associated cliff), a hill and a large water feature (a churn).

features minus trees

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I also knew I wanted towns and cities, as well as the roads between them:

features

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I also add trails to show where my characters travel during the book.

trails

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GIMP has met every need. And my maps can change with time; all I do is turn various layers on and off, creating new combinations of features and paths.

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Here is one of the maps for my next book Meniscus: The Knife:

meniscus north district knife

The dotted line (– . — . — . –) shows Tagret’s path as she goes on her quest to rescue Rist.

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All my best,

staying home and in my two-family bubble,

Jane

 

 

next book in the Meniscus Series

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May 1 has arrived. With my new poetry books at the ‘proof’ stage, I have shifted gears to work on revisions of the next book in my science fiction series.

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Meniscus: The Knife is the eighth book in the Meniscus Series and continues with the love story of Tagret and Rist. I haven’t looked at the manuscript for two months, so I hope to see it with a new eye.

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When we left them in the last book, Meniscus: Encounter with the Emenpod, Tagret and Rist are parting company for a while. Rist, after the manner of all Slain, is going to his home to hibernate for the winter. Tagret will pass the winter months in the community of Themble Hill where she will have company and things to do.

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In Meniscus: The Knife, Tagret will go on a quest to save Rist from the dangerous Brotherhood.

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I think ‘The Knife’ is a great title for the book.

First, The Knife is the name of Rist’s home, the first step in Tagret’s quest.

Second, a knife is a metaphor for anything cut in two, a broken vow, a broken trust, a severed relationship.

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knife romance split

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Third, there are no knives on the planet Meniscus. The reason for this is the mythological interpretation of the geological fault that physically separated the gentle Argenops from the oppressive Dock-winders and their Gel-head minions. Long ago, says the mythology, the Themble area was cut from the En’ast area by a magical knife and since then, no knives have been allowed on the planet Meniscus.

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knife culture split

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I have a few steps to do before the book is done:

  • Read the manuscript and make adjustments to storylines;
  • Do line by line revisions (word choice and poetic structure);
  • Add front matter, character descriptions, glossary and gel-speak dictionary;
  • Submit the manuscript to my editor;
  • Incorporate editorial suggestions;
  • Format text;
  • Finish drawings and maps, scan, scale and insert into text.
  • Create cover painting and photograph;
  • Scale photo and create cover;
  • Submit to Kindle Direct Publishing and request Proof;
  • Review and revise Proof;
  • Resubmit and finalize;
  • Push publish!

Then I begin the formatting process for the second time, to create an e-book.

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Sounds daunting but I have done this so often, I have worked out all (well, most) of the bugs. I am helped in this by my ‘little black books’ where I write out the revision and formatting steps, font sizes, image dimensions, Word settings and KDP requirements.

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I’ll keep you up to date on my progress.

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All my best,

staying safe and in my two-household bubble,

Jane

Written by jane tims

May 4, 2020 at 7:00 am

reading in isolation

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For a writer, retired from the daily commute, living in isolation from others has not been very hard. I have kept in touch with my family by phone, with my writing groups by Messenger, and with other friends through Facebook. When I am not writing, I watch TV or read aloud to my husband and we occasionally go for short drives. I’ve also taken an on-line writing course on Monday and Thursday evenings. Sometimes I sew, sometimes I blog. Rarely I take on my cleaning duties. There is always lots to do.

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Reading has been a true solace in these times of isolation. I have a Kobo for bedtime reading and a Kindle for the living room. And there is always a stack of books by the reading chair. I love British detective series like those of Ann Granger, Anne Cleeves and Elly Griffiths. I also love Science Fiction, most recently Vicki Holt’s Hunted on Predator Planet.

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What’s a comfortable chair without a book?

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So what is it about reading that is so involving? Part of this is setting, being transported to the misty sea-bound Shetland Islands, or the tentacled and mucky landscape of a distant planet. Part is about characters, getting to know people who face heart-pounding danger, or who solve mysteries by fitting clue to clue. Part is about story, a mix of circumstance and fate with twists and turns and an ending you never see coming.

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I have been known to lose myself in a good book. Once I settled in my car at a local park to read and forgot to return to work!

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Other people are reading lots too. I have seen a bit of a spike in book sales on Amazon. It is one of the pleasures of being a writer, knowing that I can bring a bit of escapism and solace to my readers.

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If you want to lose yourself in a book series, try my Meniscus Series. It’s a bit different. The stories are written in narrative poetry in a style that is compact and accessible. There are maps, a glossary and an alien dictionary in each book. All my books are illustrated.

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The Meniscus Series is about humans trying to overcome a dystopian reality on an alien planet. The story unfolds over several books and the theme is building relationships, building community.

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All my best!

Stay in your bubble! Read on!

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 29, 2020 at 7:00 am

Kindle Free Book Deal: Intro to the Meniscus Sci-Fi Series

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Meniscus — a planet far from Earth. When humans are taken there, they face a life of hardship and servitude. But humans are resilient. Follow the story of the humans who struggle to escape from the oppressive Dock-winders and build a home in an alien world.

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Rist and Tagret foreground.jpg

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In the sixth book of the Meniscus series, Meniscus: Oral Traditions, meet Tagret. The Dock-winders have taken her from Earth and deposited her on the streets of the alien city of Sintha. Tagret feels helpless, but she soon meets other humans who will help her get along in this strange and dangerous place.

One of these is Rist, a Slain, a genetically modified human who has forged a life for himself. He does not want or need a tag-along to burden his days. But when Tagret is sold at a Dock-winder auction, Rist uses all his tickets to save her from a terrible fate. Tagret feels safe with Rist and makes plans for the future.

But Rist has a secret …

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Meniscus: Oral Traditions is a great entry point for readers who think they’d like to find out more about the humans on Meniscus. Each Meniscus book is written as a readable long poem and is illustrated by the author. The books are a quick read, and include both adventure and romance.

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For five days next week (August 5 to 9, 2019), I will be running a Kindle Free Book Deal and the e-version of Meniscus: Oral Traditions will be free at Amazon.  here

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Oral Traditions cover blue (5)

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I will be sending reminders during the Kindle Free Book Deal, so stay tuned!!!!!

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All my best,

Alexandra Tims

(a.k.a. Jane)  

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