Delay on Book Release

My optimism in February set the date for the release of my next book in the Meniscus Series at March 31. But as the month of March unfolded, I realized I had much more work to do on Meniscus: Oral Traditions:

  • completion of the cover painting
  • completion of the pencil drawings to illustrate the story
  • final edit of the story
  • final design of the book
  • time for my beta readers to read and comment on the story

I have completed some of the work. But there is still some distance to go. The new publication date is much more realistic: May 15, 2019.

In that time I will be able to complete the above steps and feel confident I have done my best work.

Setting goals is a good idea, since it gives an author something to work towards. But sometimes it is easy to set unrealistic goals and very hard to meet them.

This will give you a look at some of the drawings I have done for Meniscus: Oral Traditions:

~

Rist and Tagret foreground
‘Rist and Tagret’

~

March 2019 'Rist's tattoo'paperback
Rist’s tattoo – Rist has a secret and reason for the tattoo!

~

'dagger-drip'paperback.jpg
Dagger-drip, a poisonous plant featured in the story

~

All my best!

Jane

 

 

Advertisements

coming soon – Meniscus: Oral Traditions

Coming March 2019 – the sixth book in the Meniscus Series. The setting is the planet Meniscus, but in this book, we meet new characters who will eventually become part of the town at Themble Hill.

~

Meniscus: Oral Traditions

Margaret, with her Masters Degree in Chemistry, works at a call centre. Her days are uneventful, answering the questions of pet owners and walking along the river with her dog Winston each evening.

Then everything changes.

One minute she is explaining to a call centre customer how to convince her labradoodle to swallow its medication.

And the next, her hair has grown four inches and she is in the streets of an alien city, surrounded by unfamiliar spaces, water that climbs and aliens with skin like green gelatin.

In the next weeks, Tagret (no one will use her proper name) learns about her new home on Meniscus and meets one of the Slain, Human males who have been genetically modified by the Dock-winder aliens. Rist is like no other Slain. He is strong and has a Slain’s special weaponry and abilities, but he also sings and jokes and makes Tagret feel safe on this alien planet.

Together they set off on an adventure that will put Tagret’s chemistry knowledge to use.

But Rist has a secret. He has taken a vow . . .

~

Meniscus: Oral Traditions will be available March 31, 2019 !

Rist and Tagret foreground

I hope you will like this new story about Humans on an alien planet!

All my best,

Alexandra

 

 

 

 

 

New Book in the Series: Karst Topography

Only a few days to go before the fifth book in the Meniscus Series is published … October 15, 2018 !

~

Review of Meniscus: Crossing The Churn, first book in the series:

I have never read a book that uses so few words to inspire so much emotion …

only 139 pages long, with each page holding 100 words or less per page … You will be amazed at how potent her words are!

I give this 5 stars for its power, its uniqueness, the fabulous graphics, and a terrific story.

Liza O’Connor, The Multiverses of Liza O’Connor

The Series follows the adventures of a group of Humans on the alien Planet of Meniscus. On Meniscus, Humans live in bondage and are not allowed to build relationships with one another. When a small group escapes the over-lords, they work together to build a new community, battling the elements, local wild life and dangerous aliens. Meniscus is the story of how Humans work to overcome any hardship.

~

walking among the stars crop (2).jpeg

~

Meniscus: Karst Topography

After building a new town at Themble Hill, and thinking they are safe from their Dock-winder over-seers, the Human women of the town are taken by a Prell transport. The Slain return to the town from a supply run to find their women gone. They journey to Prell and use technology to locate the women and intimidation to procure their release. But Odymn is not in Prell and Daniel (one of the Slain) is convinced that she did not survive. Meanwhile, back in Themble Hill, Odymn struggles with her injuries and worries she has lost Daniel forever. Gradually she recovers from her injuries, uses her skill at parkour to recover her strength and mobility and learns more about the strange place they have chosen to settle. Eventually she learns about the rescue mission and determines to follow and find Daniel.

~

cover trial.jpg

~

Meniscus: Karst Topography will be available October 15, 2018. There is still time to catch up on the Series. The books are written as narrative poetry, 10-20,000 words and each a quick read! A love story with lots of action and adventure. Edited by Lee Thompson.

~

Meniscus: Crossing the Churn A woman on a dystopian planet wants freedom and discovers that sometimes fate returns you to where you began; the story of the meeting of Odymn and the Slain, Daniel.

Meniscus: One Point Five – Forty Missing Days  When Daniel is injured, Odymn and a furry Argenop work to return him to health; the story of how Odymn’s past trauma may get in the way of her romance with the Slain.

Meniscus: South from Sintha Daniel tries to right the wrongs he has done and learns he must bear the consequences of his actions; the story of how the Slain returns six of his contracts to their homes.

Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb A group of people try to build the first human community on a dystopian planet and discover that their former masters have found a way to follow them; story of Odymn and Daniel’s first winter together on Meniscus and how they help six survivors of a transport crash.

Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill A group of people try to overcome the hardships of living together in the first human community on a dystopian planet; the story of what happens when parkour-loving Odymn breaks a leg.

Meniscus: Karst Topography A group of the Slain go on a mission to rescue the woman of Themble Hill; the story of how Daniel and Odymn deal with separation.

~

All my best

Alexandra (a.k.a. Jane)

 

Meniscus: Karst Topography … cover art

I have completed the painting for the cover art of the fifth book in the Meniscus Series … Meniscus: Karst Topography!

~

Here is a sequence showing my process in doing the painting:

~

img_5817

~

The painting ‘walking among the stars’ shows my character Kathryn as she navigates a holograph of the galaxy and finds the planet Meniscus.

When the Slain return from an excursion, they discover the women of the Village have been taken by a Dock-winder transport. They set out on a dangerous journey to Prell-nan to find the women, risking their lives in the dirty streets, sordid brothels and creepy buildings of Dock-winder-run Prell. They find Vicki, Madoline, Kathryn and Meghan, but where is Odymn?

The book launches October 15! Can’t wait!

~

All by best,

Alexandra

Writing Science Fiction: symbols

The use of symbols is a key element in creative writing.

~

Symbols are settings, objects, characters or events containing layers of meaning. Beneath any literal meanings are figurative meanings that imbue the symbol with depth and significance. A common symbol encountered in literature is the ‘owl’. On one level, the owl is a feathered creature with big eyes and amazing head-turning capability; on another, figurative level, the owl is symbolic of wisdom.

~

037 (2016_12_30 00_28_35 UTC)
my only photo of an owl … snowy owl on the Grand Lake Meadows, December 2013

~

Mention an object once and it’s a prop, sometimes with associations. Mention it twice and the reader remembers the first mention, loaded with its connotations and denotations. Mention it three times and the associations can scream, suggest elements of plot. The object has become a symbol.

~

The use of symbols deepens meanings and helps the plot reverberate throughout the writing.

~

In the book I am currently revising (Meniscus: Encounter with the Emenpod, publication date July, 2019) my male character Rist wears gloves when he is with other people. Mentioned once, they are part of his wardrobe. Mentioned twice, the gloves are associated with his inability to touch the woman he loves. Mentioned more often, those gloves are a symbol of his separation from anyone he cares about. Even when other characters wear gloves, the reader is reminded of this separation, and all the associated history.

~

'hammock'
Rist, alone, wears no gloves

~

When I wrote the first draft of this book, gloves had no role in the story. As often happens, the symbol, the wearing of gloves, solved a plot problem. Once I had added the gloves, their mention had strategic importance. I also realized that gloves had already been included in the plot, in an entirely unrelated way. Once the gloves became a symbol of one character’s separation from others, their further mention built on the idea of separation and lack of understanding between cultures.

~

Scan_20180805.jpg

~

Symbols operate like mini sub-plots throughout story.  These mini-plots echo the main plot, and, during the story, the objects change in a way that illuminates it.  The mini-plots also tend to occur in three ‘beats’, providing a beginning, middle and end.  For example, gloves are at first worn in every circumstance; when they are occasionally removed, risks are taken; later, when the gloves are removed forever, intimacy can grow between characters.

~

To strengthen the use of symbols in my work, I use tables. Once I have decided which symbols will be important to my story, I build a table of symbols and note where the symbols are mentioned (the three beats) and what mini-plot is suggested. Gaps in the table suggest possible revisions.

~

Object Symbol Key Occurrences

(Chapter Number)

Mini-plot
gloves separation 7 42 65 Rist must wear gloves to avoid transfer of elements of body chemistry to other people; removing the gloves represents a step in committing to Tagret.
bell home 4 29 63 the dinner bell is introduced in Meniscus: Karst Topography (September, 2018) as a symbol of missing loved ones. In Meniscus: Encounter with the Emenpod, bell ringing is the first warning the Village is in peril; later, the ring of the bell is a sign community members will return.
kettle family 5 33 58 the cooking kettle was introduced in Meniscus: South from Sintha and has accompanied my characters on their various adventures. When tragedy occurs, a search for the kettle is representative of a search for a missing child; when the kettle is found, there is hope for the restoration of family.

~

Symbols seem to take on exaggerated importance in science fiction. Perhaps this is because of the association with fantasy where objects often have magical significance. Fantasy and science fiction plots often involve the ‘quest’ for a significant object. Although I am sure other story-telling includes powerful symbols (for example, the ‘car’ in The Great Gatsby, symbolic of wealth), science fiction and fantasy genres are particularly proud of theirs (for example, the ‘One Ring’ in Lord of the Rings). All the more reason to embed symbols with maximum significance and meaning.

~

IMG318_crop (2016_12_30 00_28_35 UTC)

~

All my best!

Alexandra

(a.k.a.Jane)

World-building: Myth and Mystery

I think sentient creatures need a system of belief. So when I write about them in my science-fiction, I include ‘belief system’ as a world-building parameter.

~

The Humans in my stories have all been ‘taken’ from Earth to serve as slaves on the alien planet Meniscus. When they come to Meniscus, their freedom is ripped from them. Freedom to come and go, freedom to associate with other Humans, freedom of religion – all are lost.

~

As Humans survive on Meniscus, they sequester their existing beliefs, perhaps practicing them in private. They also encounter, and sometimes absorb, the myths, creation stories and beliefs of the alien species on Meniscus.

~

All the alien species on plant Meniscus, Dock-winders, Gel-heads and Argenops, have stories of The Separation, a time when geological processes caused development of The Fault, a barrier to communication between the gentle Argenops and the self-serving Dock-winders.

~

The Fault.jpg

~

There are also stories of ancient peoples and evidence of their work. The Emenpod, also known as The Builders, built the stairs at the small water-climb in Meniscus: Winter at the Water-climb and the find-a-way stairs in Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill. These ‘beings’ are so mysterious, they have been elevated to the level of ‘god’. The Emenpod will be at least partly revealed in Book Seven of the Series, Meniscus: Encounter with the Emenpod. But will they be gods or another alien life-form?

~

stairs at water-climb

~

At least two ‘gods’ enter the belief systems of the planet. De-al, Water-weld, is credited with making unruly water stay on Meniscus. Amblyn, God of Fire, figures into the belief systems of the Argenops who practice daily ‘arm homage’ to him. And what do the Dock-winders think of these gods? In the next book, Book Five in the Series, Meniscus: Karst Topography, to be released in September, my readers will get a tour through a Dock-winder museum where their reverence for their gods will be put on display.

~

~

As we get to know the Human characters on Meniscus, and as they start to feel comfortable in their new-found freedom, we will catch glimpses of the beliefs they once practiced on Earth.

~

Scan_20180428 (2).jpg

~

One of my favourite new characters is Aisha, taken from from Tamil Nadu on Earth. How will she honour her beliefs and help others in their struggle to cope with life so far from her home? Meet her in Book Five Meniscus: Karst Topography and again in Book Six, Meniscus: Oral Traditions.

~

Creating believable, well rounded characters means giving them multi-faceted backgrounds. In the next book you read, consider the author’s approach to the belief system of his/her characters.

~

All my best,

Alexandra

(a.k.a. Jane)

Writing a science fiction series: building recurring ideas from book to book

I like to view Series as one longer story, told in parts. Although each book may have its own story and character arcs, there is continuity between books. Books in the series may share characters, settings, world view, spiritual beliefs, mythologies, principles of chemistry, biology and physics and so on.

~

Books in a series may also build, from book to book, on ideas not explored fully in earlier books.

~

Examples from my own books about adventures on the planet Meniscus include the story of Belnar’s missing tooth.

~

'Belnar' paperback

~

Belnar is a Slain, a genetically modified Human. Like other Slain, Belnar has exceptional endurance and strength, has unusual physical features such as nictitating eyelids, and uses electricity for protection and weaponry. Belnar also has a personality different from other Slain – he is brash, a joker, self-serving, irreverent and aggressive. In an encounter with another Slain, Belnar loses his front incisor. A small physical defect causes him to have pronunciation problems but he uses the defect to advantage, mostly to make himself seem more charming.

~

~

Although not critical to any particular story, Belnar’s tooth (or lack of tooth) recurs, story after story.

Crossing The Churn – Odymn finds Belnar’s tooth in a packet of Daniel’s contract trophies

'a trophy for every contract'

South from Sintha – Odymn and Daniel release Belnar from the island where he is a captive and the story of the tooth’s loss is described

Winter by the Water-climb – mentioned as a physical feature

The Village at Themble Hill – the missing tooth and the whistle in his speech help Belnar make friends with an alien child

Karst Topography – Belnar gets a dental implant in Prell to make Vicki like him

Encounter with the Emenpod – Belnar gets in a fight with another Slain and loses his brand new tooth

~

'the Slains battle'

~

A small idea, the story of a tooth, but recurring ideas serve a few purposes in a book series:

  1. The missing tooth is a symbol of Belnar’s edgy personality,
  2. The missing tooth is a metaphor for recurring problems that never seem to be resolved
  3. Readers familiar with the series watch for recurring ideas and feel an ‘insider’ connection
  4. Later stories in the series may seize on a well-developed idea with ‘history’ and use such an idea as a plot focus.

~

Who knows the future of Belnar’s missing tooth? At this point in the writing of the series, it remains an idea rife with possibilities.

~

If you are writing a series, do you introduce recurring ideas to serve story-building purposes?

~

All my best,

Alexandra