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Archive for the ‘Meniscus’ Category

how much for a trip to space?

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Yesterday, October 13, 2021, will be part of Star Trek history since William Shatner (a.k.a. Captain James T. Kirk) took a real journey into space, on board the space tourism ship, Blue Origin’s New Shepard. The cost of a ticket is variable, but in the range of hundreds of thousands into the millions. I said to my husband, “I’ll pass. I’ll just let the Dock-winders come and get me, and ‘take’ me to Meniscus.”

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So, if you are a reader of the Meniscus Science Fiction Series, you will know that the Dock-winders of Meniscus have visited (or will visit Earth) seven times: 1982, 1988, 1995, 2008, 2013, 2020 and 2023 (two years from now). Each time, they harvest Humans for transport to their planet. In every Meniscus book, there is a list of characters and the years they were taken. Next year, I will be publishing three novellas, short urban mysteries, in the Meniscus Peripherals Series. In each book, set on Earth, there will be a mention of a Dock-winder abduction and a connection to a Meniscus Science Fiction Series story.

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If you are not fussy about being ‘taken’ to Meniscus, for free, you can still be transported to the Meniscus world, for the small price of a paperback or e-book. There are now nine Meniscus adventures (ten if you include 1.5), and the tenth in the series, Meniscus: Rosetta Stone, will be released tomorrow, Friday!

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The books in the series are:

Book One – Meniscus: Crossing The Churn

Book 1.5 – Meniscus: One Point FiveBook One – Meniscus: Crossing The Churn

Book 1.5 – Meniscus: One Point Five

Book Two – Meniscus: South from Sintha

Book Three – Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb

Book Four – Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill

Book Five – Meniscus: Karst Topography

Book Six – Meniscus: Oral Traditions

Book Seven – Meniscus: Encounter with the Emenpod

Book Eight – Meniscus: The Knife

Book Nine – Meniscus: Meeting of Minds

Book Ten – Meniscus: Rosetta Stone

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Reading will transport you to Meniscus, second planet in the solar system of Tathlet-Amblyn, a double sun. Meniscus is a world of woodlands, deserts and mountains and the cities of Prell District, North and South. The plants and animals are peculiar and sometimes dangerous. And water moves upward, not down. Rivers do not flow and water is hard to swallow. The Humans who find themselves on Meniscus are the slaves of the Dock-winder system. But sometimes they are able to escape and, with other Humans, build relationships and communities and have exciting adventures.

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Meniscus: Rosetta Stone will introduce two new characters, Abra and Trath. Abra, an historian, finds a manuscript written in both Dock-winder and Gel-speak. Abra believes translation of the document may reveal a secret to overthrow the Dock-winders. She sets out for Hath-men, a village where The Resistance is centred. But traveling alone on Meniscus can be very dangerous.

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Meniscus: Rosetta Stone will be available on Friday, October 15, in both paperback and e-book versions. Once I get copies, it will be available from me or at Westminster Books in Fredericton.

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All my best.

(The Dock-winders are fictional.

You don’t have to worry about them!)

Jane

(a.k.a. Alexandra)

Written by jane tims

October 13, 2021 at 5:24 pm

An Upcoming Trilogy in the Meniscus Series

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To the right of the post, you will see, in a column, a list of the nine existing books in the Meniscus Science Fiction Series. This summer, I am working on books 10, 11 and 12, a trilogy in that the books are connected in theme and story. The three books are (provisionally) entitled:

Meniscus: Rosetta Stone

Meniscus: The Struggle

Meniscus: Return to Sintha

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The books tell the story of how Abra, historian and transcription expert, works to solve the mystery of the Dock-winder language, hoping an ancient manuscript written in Dock-winder will contain a clue to the downfall of these oppressive overlords.

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The books contain many old friends from previous books in the Meniscus Series, including the people of Themble Hill. They also introduce two new characters: Abra and her husband Trath, a Slain.

From the list of characters at the end of each book:

Abra– an historian; transcribes, transliterates and translates Museum manuscripts from Gel-speak to English; brought to Meniscus in the 2013 harvest; taken as she worked in the library of the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Connecticut, translating a codex of Maya glyphs into English; used as a processor of the beelwort drug by the Dock-winders of the Prell-nan Ogle-hath syndicate; met her husband Trath when he brought raw beelwort to be processed; lives with Trath in the Museum of Dock-winder Legacy, Prell; as she works in the Museum library, she sometimes forgets she is no longer on Earth.

Trath – a trader; gathers wild beelwort for sale to the city syndicates and hospitals; brought to Meniscus as a baby by the Dock-winders in the 1988 harvest and genetically altered to be a Slain; makes his home in the Museum of Dock-winder Legacy, in Prell; addicted to beelwort; married to Abra.

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Here is an excerpt from Rosetta Stone:

“Why did you leave me?”

says Trath.

Abra lifts her head.

Stares at Garnock,

the Wandering Star.

Careful of her words.

“You are never home.

Never tell me

where you have been.

Hardly speak to me

when you are there.”

“You are always

in the archives,”

says Trath,

“with your books and papers.

Never seem to care if I come or go.”

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All my books are illustrated and include maps, a character list, a glossary and a Gel-speak dictionary.

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Meniscus: Rosetta Stone will be out this fall.

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All my best,

Jane (a.k.a. Alexandra)

new in the Meniscus Series: Meeting of Minds

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For your summer read, visit another planet. The plants and animals are strange, the aliens are evil. But some things don’t change. Good memories. Love and friendship. Family.

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But sometimes memories, love and family are lost. When Odymn is captured by the Dock-winders, they erase ten years of her memory. There are two moons in the night sky. Her husband, Daniel, is a stranger. Food and even water are unfamiliar.

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Follow Odymn and Daniel as they get to know one another again. And when the Dock-winders capture Daniel, how will Odymn rescue him?

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Meniscus: Meeting of Minds is available now on Amazon, here, in paperback and ebook. By the end of June, you will find the paperback at Westminster Books in Fredericton. This is the ninth book in the Meniscus Series … time to introduce yourself to the series by reading Volume 1, here, or Volume 6, here. Lots of love and adventure.

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All my best,

Jane

Starting a new book 2

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Today, I finished the rough draft of my new book in the Meniscus Series. This book will deal with discovery of a secret that will bring down the nasty Dock-winders.

The working title of the book is Meniscus: Resistance.

Before you become amazed at my productivity, remember that my Meniscus stories are in narrative poetry and are a quick read. At this early stage, this book has 11,600 words.

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The next step in my process is tedious, but very helpful.

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I create a Table of Chapters. Each ‘Chapter’ in the table is described by ‘What happens,’ ‘Setting.’ ‘Point of view,’ ‘Characters,’ and ‘Theme Progress.’ I can work through my entire document:

  • change all the place holders to actual Chapter numbers;
  • make certain the setting is described in detail;
  • ensure point of view in each chapter is clear and does not waver;
  • list the characters in the chapter and ensure everyone has a role to play; and,
  • check on progress made towards resolution of the story.

Table of Chapters for Meniscus: of Resistance

ChapterWhat happensSettingPoint of ViewCharactersTheme Progress
PrologueJames escapesSpace dockJamesJames, D, DW, GH, Drag’onIntroduce  antagonists
1.Trath crawls from minebase of Flame MtnTrathTrathTrath escapes
2.Abra finds six glyphsobelisk at The TipAbraAbraAbra finds glyphs
3.Evening meal at Hath’menVillage of Hath’menOmniscientJames, Drag’on villagersDrag-on set apart
etc.     

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If the story is missing an ending, or has continuity issues, this building of the table helps me to focus on the story progress and, by the time the table is completed, the story is more complete.

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Once these tasks have been done, the Table of Chapters can be set aside and used later for any stage of the revision process. For example, I can check each chapter for phases of the moon, so the full moon doesn’t occur two days before the crescent moon! I also use the table to make certain the illustrations are evenly distributed throughout the text.

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Off I go, to fill out the Table of Chapters and to find an ending for my book.

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All my best!

Stay safe.

Jane

Written by jane tims

November 18, 2020 at 12:00 pm

starting a new book

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I love working on multiple writing projects at once. So it is no surprise to me that I have books and projects at all stages in development:

  • The next book in my Kaye Eliot Mysteries is in final draft (‘Land Between the Furrows,’ release date March 2021)
  • The next of my poetry books (‘niche‘) is in proof stage (release December 2020)
  • I have just released the next book in the Meniscus Science Fiction Series (Meniscus: The Knife) and the next is in final Draft (‘Meniscus: Meeting of Minds,’ release date May 2021).

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So, this week, in the narrow crack between revisions, I have started to draft another in the Meniscus Series. Tentatively entitled ‘Meniscus: Resistance,‘ this will be the last in the Meniscus Series (she says).

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It has been so long since I started a new book, I have forgotten how the process unfolds.

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1. A long time thinking, while doing other things, about the theme … how this book will connect with the last, who the characters will be, where the action will occur and so on.

2. A few sleepless nights, staring at the ceiling, thinking about opening scenes, how my characters are feeling and precipitating events.

3. Eventually I am ready to start the first drafting. For this, I need a relaxing, familiar space. I like to sit on the sofa in my living room, so most of the drafting will be on my iPad in the Word app. At some points, I may shift my focus and do some writing in longhand.

4. Even during drafting, I start revising. I go back and forth, moving details around, gleaning from earlier books to avoid inconsistencies, refining ideas. Some days I turn to the main computer to do a read-through and correct spelling and syntax, and to start to refine the poetry of the story-telling.

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Of all the parts of the writing process, the early drafting is my favourite. It is also (for me) the quickest. By starting a new project, I have resolved to follow through with later revision work, illustration (including the cover art), formatting and marketing.

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So, here I am in happy land, pushing my characters around, and sometimes trying to catch up to them …

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

November 12, 2020 at 7:00 am

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

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