ending a story

When I started to write my science fiction Meniscus Series, I had no idea where it would take me. All I knew was, the first story was there in my head, waiting to be told. Now I have four books published in the Series and five more planned. I have had to think about how I would end each book. I want each book to stand alone and yet I also want to segue into the next book. I also want the read to be satisfying and somewhat unexpected.

Meniscus: Crossing The Churn (here)

Meniscus: One Point Five – Forty Missing Days (here) (or free on Wattpad here)

Meniscus: South from Sintha (here)

Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb (here)

Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill (coming April 14, 2018)

Meniscus: Karst Topography (coming in 2018)

Meniscus: Encounter with the Emenpod (coming in 2018)

Meniscus: Journey to Bleth (coming in 2019)

Meniscus: Oral Traditions (coming in 2019)


Crossing The Churn  Scan_20180120 (2) Scan_20170522  Meniscus Winter by the Water-climb


Perhaps the most significant characteristic of endings has to do with outcome.

Do characters reach their destination or not?

Do they find the object of their quest or are they unsuccessful?


'release of the feather' close up


Beyond this, endings have other characteristics. Endings can be:

happy or sad

surprising or expected

exciting (active) or subdued (passive)

fated or governed by free-will

triumphant or disastrous

concluding or beginning

optimistic or pessimistic

encouraging or disappointing


'Odymn hides in the leaves'


With eight variables, there are many possible combinations. I did a quick analysis of my stories Meniscus: Crossing the Churn (blue dots) and Meniscus: Karst Topography (red dots). The endings are quite different, although they have commonalities. I have put in bold the characteristics of endings I usually prefer in stories.




A book in a series may demand a different set of endings than a self-contained, stand-alone story. An ending that suggests a new beginning will make a reader read the next book to discover what happens next. A disastrous ending will entice a reader to find out how the disaster is dealt with in the next book.


Not too long ago, I had a discussion with a reader who said the best endings are unexpected, but not necessarily related to the main objective, quest or destination.  The ending returns instead to something contained in the story that seems unconnected to the success of the mission or the eventual fate of the characters.


A simple example:

A woman, whose husband is killed in an explosion, tries to rebuild her life. She searches for a man who will make her happy and after several failures, she finds him. The story ends at the wedding when she sees a man among the visitors who looks just like her first husband.


'Belnar woos Vicki'.jpg


The ending is, of course, is not independent of the story. Moreover, stories have a way of writing themselves, situation leading to situation until a conclusion is reached.


When you finish writing your story, you have not reached the end. Now comes the editing! The ending of your story deserves a little analysis. Considering the ending with respect to the characteristics above may help you with the process.


All the best in your writing!







Free Book … Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb


From March 3 to March 7, 2018, you can get the Kindle version of Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb for FREE. Just click here to find out how the winter season goes for Odymn on an alien planet.


Winter on the planet Meniscus is brutal — the plenty of other seasons gives way to scarcity and desperation. Unprepared for the months ahead, Odymn and the Slain find shelter with the generous Argenops, friendly furry creatures. When Odymn has to survive without the help of the Slain, she must depend on her own wits and her skill at parkour to survive the alien landscape of the Themble. But she is not prepared for new arrivals, group of survivors of a transport ship crash. On a planet where Human relationships are not allowed, ten people and an alien child take the first steps toward building a community.


Hope you love the story of winter on Meniscus. And the story of how genetically altered Slains usually spend the winter!!!



Meniscus Winter by the Water-climb

Guest Post: Liza O’Connor – Destination: Titan

Welcome to a guest post by Liza O’Connor, author of Destination: Titan – science fiction with lots of sexy romance, an intriguing story line and interesting characters. I was first introduced to Liza through her book Angel of Mercy. I enjoyed that book and I am now in the middle of reading Destination: Titan.


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Meet the main character

Tamara: She’s not even considered important when she first arrives but very soon she is critical to the mission.

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Destination: Titan


Liza O’Connor


With Earth destined for a new ice-age, seven scientists and twenty-two brilliant teenagers are gathered in a compound deep within a mountain. There they struggle to come together as a group and complete the projects needed for their survival in the inhospitable environment of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. However, certain factions on Earth have no intention of letting Project Einstein succeed. Keeping the group alive and productive is the hardest task Colonel Lancaster and his soldiers have ever had, but they are determined to succeed no matter how well the saboteurs have planned. The continuation of the human race depends upon it.



“So, you’re telling me I was chosen over every other biochemist in the world because my favorite color is orange.” Tamara tugged at a strand of her short blonde hair. Her mentor was the brightest man she knew, but this didn’t make any sense at all!

Maxwell’s eyes sparkled. “I love the way your brain tunnels in and isolates the key differentiator.”

“The fact I like the color orange should not be a key differentiator.”

Her mentor shrugged and paced the small, open space of the conference room. “Well, when all other things were equal, it became so. This project requires a top biochemist under the age of thirty, in excellent health, unmarried, with no constraints that would prevent traveling. There were quite a few scientists who met those requirements. Therefore, further differentiators were selected. The ability to work with teenagers dropped out all but two, and your clear preference for the color orange put you securely on top of the last remaining candidate.”

“But it’s a meaningless differentiator unless we’re going someplace that only has the color orange.” She fell silent as she considered that possibility. “Exactly how far will we be traveling?”

“Quite a distance.” His eyes twitched several times.

They only did that when he was conflicted, which told her she was asking the right question to discover whatever it was that he was under orders not to reveal. “Will we be traveling on Earth or away from it?”

The twitches intensified.

“Tam, I cannot tell you anything until you’ve agreed to go.”

“Jesus! We’re going to Titan, aren’t we?”

He removed his reading glasses and pressed his hand over his left eye to still the twitches. “I can neither confirm nor deny that.”

Titan: Saturn’s orange moon. Forty percent the size of Earth and rich in life-supporting chemicals. Bedrock composed of ice, rivers and seas of liquid methane, and enough hydrocarbons to heat the Earth for a thousand years.

“What is the purpose of the trip?”

“I cannot tell you anything until you agree to go.”

“Well, I cannot give you my answer until I know if we’re going to harvest the hydrocarbons for Earth or if we’re going to try to colonize it.”

Max now had both eyes covered with his hands. “Tam, I cannot tell you. You will just have to use that brilliant mind of yours to figure it out all on your own.”

His response told her that something he’d said had provided the answer. She focused on the ability to work with teenagers. You wouldn’t take teenagers on a ship to harvest, but you would to start a colony. By the time they arrived, they’d be young adults possessing a full span of child-bearing years.

“I’ll go.”



All books are free for KU subscribers

About the Author

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.


Social Networks



Investigate these sites:

Liza’s Multiverse Blog

Liza’s Blog and Website   Facebook   Twitter

All the Many Books Liza has written

Destination Titan2 AND aRRIVAL



Enjoy the reading!

All my best,


of two minds …

Since 1990 I have worked to improve my writing. It was always my dream to assemble enough work to publish a book. In 2012 I retired from my work as an environmental planner and six years later, I have six books published. Two are poetry  books with a traditional publisher (Chapel Street Editions) and four are published independently (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform).


WER Cover Front  SCB Cover

Crossing The Churn  Scan_20180120 (2)  Scan_20170522  Meniscus Winter by the Water-climb.jpg


The two sets of books are quite different: within easy reach‘ and ‘in the shelter of the covered bridge‘ are traditional poetry books. The four books in the Meniscus series are science fiction (romance/adventure). People I talk to about my writing are curious about my rather two-minded choice of writing both traditional and genre.

The answer I give is this (explaining my writing in science fiction):

  1. I love science fiction. Because I have been drawn so deeply into the worlds of Star Trek, Firefly and Stargate (and others), I feel I have lived both now and in the future. And now I have ‘lived’ on the planet Meniscus.
  2. World-building is of great interest to me. As a biologist, I have learned how connected living things are to the environments and landscapes where they live. I can bring my knowledge as a biologist to build worlds I will never see – worlds that might have a chance of ‘working’.  The midlars in the Themble Woods of Meniscus are perfectly adapted to their tree-top existence.
  3. My interest in landscape is the result of my dual experience as a biologist and a planner. Since the first step in building my fictional worlds is drawing a map, I can locate various landforms and populate them with plants and animals that have adapted to live there.  I love the landscape of Meniscus, especially the ‘entag’, a mat of vegetation that establishes itself in the air above the ground since water on Meniscus tends to ‘float’.'Ning explores the space beneath the floating mat'.jpg
  4. In the last years of my environmental work, I became interested in community planning. To me, any story about Humans living on an alien planet would involve building a community. My story about the Slain and Odymn begins as two people travelling together, but in no time, they are joined by others. I loved telling the story about their first settlement together (my upcoming book Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill).a plan for Themble Hill.jpg
  5. As I learned about planning communities, my environmental background pushed me in the direction of sustainable communities. For this reason, I think a lot about where people get their food. My characters in Meniscus are always food-gathering. Odymn is particularly good at foraging and discovering new sources of food. And she teaches others what she knows.

'dagger drip'.jpg


Are there any similarities between my science fiction books and my traditional poetry books? Certainly. The themes of biology, landscape and sustainability are in both. My poetry book ‘within easy reach’ is all about finding and gathering wild plants as food. My book ‘in the shelter of the covered bridge’ is about how the communities we build interact with the environment.


And Odymn carries a copy of my book ‘within easy reach’ with her, way up there on Meniscus!


I hope my books about life on Meniscus will help my readers pay better attention to their own existence here in Earth!!! Where does your food really come from????


Best Regards,






Free Book!

Want a quick read? A chance to explore a distant planet with two spirited characters? The first book in my science-fiction adventure series Meniscus: Crossing the Churn (Kindle version) is available for free for the next three days on Kindle.  From January 29 to January 31, you can meet Odymn and the Slain, and learn about their meeting and their first travels together across the landscapes of planet Meniscus.


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From the dangerous streets of Prell-nan to the dark woods of the Themble, this is a dystopian adventure, set on a planet where Humans are slaves to an alien race. Their only hope for freedom is to work together, foraging for their food, running from the nasty Dock-winders and battling the wild life. The only way to survive will be in their growing love for one another.


'uneasy sleep'


Hope you enjoy your free book!


Free book — Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb

Here in New Brunswick we are enjoying a gentle fall – nice days and cool temperatures. but the howling winds and bone-chill will soon begin.




So, how do the folks on other planets prepare for winter? Find out – the third book in the Meniscus science-fiction series – Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb – follows the characters as they get ready for the chilly season.


To help you get ready for a winter on planet Meniscus, I am running a free book promotion with Amazon Kindle. Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb will be free in Kindle edition from October 22 to October 25, 2017.

To order, just click here.

Although this is a series, Book Three can be read stand-alone. I hope you will enjoy the read!!!!


Meniscus Winter by the Water-climb


Winter on the planet Meniscus is brutal — the plenty of other seasons gives way to scarcity and desperation. Unprepared for the months ahead, Odymn and the Slain find shelter with the generous Argenops, furry, friendly creatures. When Odymn has to survive without the help of the Slain, she must depend on her own wits and her skill at parkour to survive the alien landscape of the Themble. But she is not prepared for new arrivals in the Themble Wood, a group of survivors, freed from slavery when their transport crashes in the Darn’el Desert. On a planet where Human relationships are not allowed, ten people and an alien child take the first steps toward building a community.


In the third book first of the Meniscus series, Winter by the Water-climb follows Odymn and the Slain as they try to survive a winter apart from one another’s help and protection.


Even in the dead of winter, you can build another home.


All my best

Alexandra Tims

Six steps to map-making in fantasy and science fiction

Recently I read an insightful post about map making in fiction. In his blog post, Alex Acks discusses the impossible geology behind Tolkien’s map of Middle Earth. http://www.tor.com/2017/08/01/tolkiens-map-and-the-messed-up-mountains-of-middle-earth/


Maps are a welcome addition to almost any book. In science fiction or fantasy, maps are part of world-building, a tool for the writer as well as the reader. But a map is much more than a river here, a town there. To be believable and to ‘work’ when the story is told, the creator of a map should think about six components of a workable landscape map.


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an outcrop of rock reveals the local geology

1. Basic Geology

Geology is the study of the hard structure of the earth, of the component rocks and sediments and the processes forming and changing them. Geology provides the basic bones of the landscape. Geological features such as mountains are formed when tectonic plates collide or slide beneath one another, causing big wrinkles in the landscape. Deciding the locations of these wrinkles is the first step in making a realistic map.

basic geology of an area showing a mountain range, sloping to north and south


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a hilly landscape


2. Geomorphology

Geomorphology is the study of the elements of landscape and how those elements are created and changed. When the basic bones of the earth are modified by movements of air and water, landscape elements such as hills, river valleys, deserts, and cliffs are formed.  Thinking about the origin, evolution, form, and distribution of landforms will help create realistic landscapes and maps. For example, if you want a desert on your map, imagine how years of erosion might have worked to create it at the base of a mountain range. Look at maps of actual terrain and see how rivers snake across the landscape, and how tributaries join the main stem in patterns.

geomorphology of an area, showing a mountain range, a hill, rivers, a desert, a coastal plain and an ocean


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two communities of vegetation: a field of blueberries (in autumn red) and a woodland of various kinds of trees


3. Ecology

Once you have built the geomorphological elements of your landscape, you can arrange the living components, the plants and animals. Keep in mind concepts of diversity (how many different kinds of plants and animals there are) and habitat preference (for example, some plants and animals prefer wet environments, some dry). Plants and animals needing the same conditions tend to group together in communities (forest, wetland and desert, for example). To make your world consistent and predictable, create profiles for the plants and animals in your world, just as you would for the sentient characters. Of course you world may not have the same ecology as earth … instead of plants and animals, you may have gootangs and elastiboes!

two vegetation types: green for woodland and brown for lowland shrubs



land use 2
a city on a peaceful river


4. Settlements

If you have sentient characters in your world, they need somewhere to live. Your map can contain individual dwellings or settlements and villages, towns and cities. When you locate these settlement features on your map, consider how sentiments beings choose where to live. They need the basics – food and water; rivers and coastal areas provide some of this. They may also need a way to transport goods, another reason many communities are situated along rivers. They may be located strategically, on a ridge or in a protected valley. Sometimes there are spiritual reasons for choosing a village site – in full view of a mountain for example.

three settlements: villages to the west and east, and a hamlet to the south


roads and paths: details to make the landscape accessible

5. Details

Once the landscape of your map is decided, and it is populated by vegetation, animal life and settlements, you can add details for realism. Roads, trails, picnic sites, crossroads, monuments, sacred sites, cemeteries, gathering places … the possibility are endless. You can also add a scale and a compass to the map (if there is a magnetic north in your fantasy world).

details added: a red road connecting the villages and a shrine marked with a star


6. Places

Place names help your reader situate the action in your story. Some of these names will be set when your story is first conceived. Others may need additional thought. A couple of ideas: unless you have a world where every place begins with the letter ‘m’, diversify the names as you would for your characters. Consider using words from geology and biology when looking for names – cauldera, drumlin, marl … copse, thallus, meristem.

some names put to places, including the towns of Pildran and Jet


In general

Of course, for science fiction and fantasy, processes may not work as they do on Earth. On my planet of Meniscus, for example, water flows up rather than down and water features such as rivers and their tributaries are not a component of the landscape. Your maps should reflect the ‘realities’ of your fantasy world!

The actual drawing of a map is a subject for a different post. I usually draft my maps first with pencil and paper. Then I refine the details in layers using GIMP.

For more information on making fantasy maps, have a look at Lauren Davis’s pointers at http://io9.gizmodo.com/10-rules-for-making-better-fantasy-maps-1680429159

Have fun with your map-making!