World Building: Phases of the moon

I love the night sky. A lot of the scenes in my Meniscus stories happen at night, so I often mention the appearance of the moons (there are two moons on Meniscus). When I am revising/editing, this means I have to keep track of the days (sun-reels) that have passed and what phase the moon is in.

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xolar system
Here it is, planet Meniscus, second rock from the suns!

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To keep track of the phases of my Meniscus moons (called Cardoth grill’en and Cardoth roe) I have prepared a guide to phases of the moon. Warning, these phases are not the same as the progression of phases of Earth’s moon. For example, the moons on Meniscus move differently and so the waxing and waning occur in a different order (on Earth, the moon starts with the new moon waxing [growing] to a sickle moon as a left facing bracket and ends with the waning sickle moon as a right facing bracket; on Meniscus, the waxing and waning slivers are right and left-facing).

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Numbers on my moon chart stand for the number of days passing.

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Diagram of Earth’s Moon Phases:

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Moon_Phase_Diagram_for_Simple_English_Wikipedia

(Source: By Andonee – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38635547 )

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People have been drawing the phases of the moon for centuries. Here are some of Galileo Galilei’s sketches of the moon:

moon drawings.png

Source: The phases of the Moon’, drawing by Galileo Galilei, 1616, courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org

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For any world building, I find tables to be very helpful during the editing phase. A Chapter by Chapter record of settings, actions, point of view, characters, passage of time,  moon phases … status of water supplies, state of healing, or anything else pertinent to the story can help resolve issues and prevent reader confusion/frustration.

An example of a simple table from part of one of my stories:

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Ch Setting Action Point of View Characters Day # Moon Phase
42 Limestone caves in The Fault Odymn runs to build her muscle and finds Rafters Odymn Odymn Day 26 waning gibbous moon
43 City of Prell Slain tells others he is leaving for north Slain Daniel, Belnar, Vicki, Madoline, Kathryn Day 27
44 Themble Woods Odymn starts her program of parkour Odymn Odymn Day 31 waning quarter moon
45 Village of Themble Hill Belnar and Vicki arrive at Themble Hill Odymn Odymn Day 32

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All my best,

Alexandra (a.k.a. Jane)

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a minute of fame

So, Meniscus: Crossing the Churn, first in the Meniscus series, has made it to a local list of top selling books! On the clipping below, see under Paperback Fiction. The article says Alexander Tims, but oh well … I’m in a list with Margaret Atwood!

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My minute of fame!

Alexandra

working on a sci-fi series

When I first started writing my science-fiction series Meniscus, I had no plans for a series or even a book. I wrote a chapter of Meniscus: Crossing The Churn because my writing group wanted to hold a Saturday workshop on science-fiction/fantasy and I had nothing to share. I pulled out a story I had written years before but it was unbelievably bad. All I salvaged from the older story was the name of the heroine ‘Odymn’.

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'parkour through the wood'test.jpg
Odymn, my main character, is an expert at parkour … helps her travel through the Themble Wood and get them out of sticky situations

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Months later, I have two of the series published and four more in the wings. Since the story is written in the form of an illustrated long poem, a 150 page book is about 10,000 to 15,000 words long. This is only about 1/10th the length of a normal book, so when I finish, the story will be the length of a short novel. Once you get used to the narrative poetry form, the result is a rather quick read.

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All six books tell a story: on a planet where humans are not allowed to have relationships, a small group of humans tries to build a community and recapture some of what they have lost. Within that longer story are six shorter story arcs, one per book.

 

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'transport crash'paperback
more characters are added to the story when a transport crashes in the desert in Book 3

 

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The table below shows the unfolding story in terms of theme, story length and number of characters.  Writing a series differs from writing a single book in that elements of the later story must be placed in earlier books. For example, the lost child in Book 6 is introduced in Book 2, the former girlfriend of the Slain is introduced in Book 3 but is not one of the characters until book 4, and so on. If you want to know what is in the mysterious box in Book 2, Meniscus: South from Sintha, the answer is in Book 3 (Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb)!

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Book Pages Word count Number of main characters Theme
Meniscus: Crossing The Churn 147 9,556 3 A young woman, Odymn, thinks she has found her freedom when she is rescued from servitude by a genetically-engineered Slain whose kindness may not be consistent with his purpose.
Meniscus: South from Sintha 151 9,740 6 The Slain, for love of Odymn, tries to return his former acquisitions to their homes and finds the task more challenging than he thought possible.
Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb (DRAFT) 244 15,310 13 Winter comes to planet Meniscus and Odymn must cope with the survivors of a transport crash without the help of the Slain.
Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill (DRAFT) 220 15,229 16 When the Dock-winder overlords threaten their friends, Odymn and the Slain try to find a safe place to build a new community.
Meniscus: Karst Topography (DRAFT) 148 ? 9147 ? 17 The Slain and his friends travel to the city of Prell to rescue the women of the community but Odymn is not among them and the Slain fears she may be dead.
Meniscus: Encounter with the Emenpod (DRAFT) 140 ??? 10,000 ??? 16 + A mysterious alien begins to rebuild the community of Themble Hill and helps the Slain and his friends to find a lost child.

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For each of the books, I am at a different stage in the writing process: marketing for Book 1 and 2, editing for Book 3 and 4, and creation for Books 5 and 6. It means I am never bored, still embedded in the creative process and getting feedback as I go.

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If you have read one of the books in the series and want to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.

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alien moons
‘alien moons’, acrylic, Alexandra Jane Tims, 5″ x 8″, May 2017

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Copyright Alexandra Tims 2017

world building – creating an alien language for my book

In the back of each of my books in the Meniscus series is ‘A Condensed Guide to Gel-speak’. The Guide includes all of the alien words I have used in the books to date.

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blog scan of dictionary

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I am not a linguist. I speak English and French and I have some idea of how words are derived and the relationships between them. Who knows if our Human ideas of language and syntax would apply to an alien race!!??

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The Gel-heads in my alien world are barely sentient, driven by greed and the search for gratification. And yet, through some twist of Meniscus history, their language is the one used by most sentients on the planet. In one of the books, they will be seen in a village, teaching the children of another alien race.

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'captive of the Gel-head'
Gel-heads are covered with green gelatinous skin: their muscles, bones and internal organs can be seen through the integument!
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The Gel-head language includes clicks for word separation and emphasis, indicated by an inverted comma   ‘   .  The words are spoken with a hiss, and include many ‘th’ sounds.

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I have tried to construct words as logical associations of other words. So, for example, a building is marneth far’natha, built from the words for ‘to build’ and ‘a thing of value’ :

marneth far’natha      a building

marneth        to build

far’natha       thing of value

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Another example:

grill’             to remove

grill’en           small (something has been removed)

cardoth          moon

cardoth grill’en    the smaller of two moons

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In the top row of my bookshelf is a copy of The Klingon Dictionary (Marc Okrand, Star Trek Pocket Books, 1985). Originally meant as an assist to actors, it has become very popular among science-fiction enthusiasts. My copy has not been dusted off for many years, but I am proud to own one. The book has been issued in two editions and is translated into five languages. The Klingon Dictionary has sold 500,000 copies. So is a guide to Gel-speak silly? Who can tell?

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a few of my collection of Star Trek paperbacks … I can’t even reach that shelf, let alone find the dictionary, but it is up there somewhere!!!
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Copyright Alexandra Tims 2017

Meniscus: the series

I hope you will enjoy visiting the planet Meniscus, the setting for my six part science fiction adventure/romance series. The first book in the series is Meniscus: Crossing The Churn (March 2017).

 … After an encounter with a wandering trader, a young woman escapes squalor and servitude with his help. As he helps her elude her former masters, she feels she has a hope for a new life. Her skills at parkour and foraging fit her well for a dangerous subsistence-based life and, in spite of his refusal to speak, she feels she has met her soul-mate. Follow Odymn and the Slain in their travels through the desert and wooded landscapes of Meniscus and discover their destination!

Meniscus: Crossing the Churn is available at Amazon.ca in paperback and Kindle formats here.

Welcome to ‘off planet’!

Welcome to the worlds I love to write about. And to the worlds I love to paint and draw.

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I am a writer, primarily a poet.  I am also an artist who illustrates my work.

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‘alien moons’, acrylic, Alexandra Jane Tims, 5″ x 8″, May 2017

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I am author of a science-fiction adventure series. The first in the series Meniscus: Crossing The Churn is available in paperback and Kindle additions on Amazon here.

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As I have published my work, I have realised – some of my writing and illustrations do not belong on earth. They should be out there, available to those of you who share my love of space travel and encounters with new worlds. This blog will help me reach out to you and share my ‘off planet’ work!

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Copyright 2017 Alexandra Tims