Dock-winders, elegant aliens

On the planet Meniscus, the alien Dock-winders plague my Human characters.

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Dock-winders, angular and lean,

elongated necks tattooed,

disconcerting eyes.

 

They travel together,

bundles of eloquence,

unperturbed by depravity.

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'the Dock-winder inspects Odymn' test

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Dock-winders are purple, with chalky skin and eyes that blink one at a time. Their very long necks are tattooed to record significant transactions.

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a dock-winder stand-up figure
A life-sized, stand-up cardboard Dock-winder made for the launch of my book Meniscus: Crossing The Churn.

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Dock-winders are the oppressive overlords of planet Meniscus. Most are merchants, trading in sentients, especially Humans.  Thirty years before the opening of the story, they invaded Earth and brought the first shipment of Humans to Meniscus.

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On Meniscus, Dock-winders keep Humans as slaves, keeping them in appalling conditions. Humans are not allowed to associate with one-another. Men and women are kept apart and there are no relationships, families or communities allowed. Of course, Humans seek each other out in various ways and some manage to forge friendships.

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Dock-winders are also arrogant about the environment of their planet, forgetting that transplanted species may not stay under control. When they invaded Earth, they also brought a few other Earth species back to Meniscus with them, including the very aggressive banyan. Banyan has become a weed on Meniscus and overtaken the natural forests of the planet. Banyan has become my metaphor for oppressed Humans who may not stay down-trodden for long.

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'Don'est'paperback
Don’est, a Dock-winder child kidnapped by the Slain. Poor Don’est has to live with Humans she doesn’t understand and who don’t appreciate her odd ways.

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Next post, I’ll tell you about the Gel-heads, the other humanoid species on the planet Meniscus.

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See you soon,

Alexandra

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Copyright Alexandra Tims 2017

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thank you!

A huge thank you to purchasers of my books. From June 1 -5 I ran a free book promotion on Amazon for the Kindle edition of South from Sintha. I gave away 41 free ebooks and sold a few Kindle editions of the first book Crossing The Churn. Also, thanks to anyone who bought ebooks or paperbacks! I am so pleased to know my stories and words and characters are getting out there!

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This week I am working on edits for the next two Meniscus books: Winter at the Water-climb and The Village at Themble Hill. Here is a new drawing for one of these books! The books will follow the continuing story of Odymn and the Slain, but new characters arrive, as the result of a transport crash.

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'Ning confronts a Gel-head'paperback

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Copyright Alexandra Tims 2017

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

planets in the Meniscus system 2

Writing science-fiction involves ‘world-building’, the process of creating an imaginary world. This fictional world can be represented with maps, illustrations and descriptions of setting. The constructed world should be coherent, and can have a history, geography, ecology,  demographics, and so on.

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For my series about planet Meniscus, most of the world-building has been on-planet, inventing deserts and forests and the ecosystems found there.

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'sandstorm in The Darn-el'test
in Meniscus: Crossing The Churn, my main characters have to cross a desert, find shelter from a sandstorm and cope with scarce water

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However, just as with ‘character-building’, a writer is wise to develop as much information about the setting as possible, even if that information does not get included in the story. This information will inform the story and provide context.

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For that reason, I have developed a setting beyond planet Meniscus itself. I have given Meniscus a ‘solar system’ and invented some basic information on the planets there. After all, my characters spend a lot of time looking at the sky and who knows what they may see!

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'naming the stars'paperback

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In Book Five of the series, ‘Meniscus: Karst Topography’, one of the displays in a museum will be a holographic presentation of the solar system and the larger galaxy. When one of the characters ‘explores’ the holographic system, she will be able to experience returning to her home on Earth and to express her ideas about living so far from home.

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The fictional solar system where Meniscus is a planet is small — only four planets and their moons.

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xolar system

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‘Sel’ is the fourth planet in the system, a huge water planet. The white areas on Sel are frozen water; the blue areas are upwellings of liquid water, located in surface ‘hot-spots’.  The life-forms on Sel are microbial, evolved to live in a watery world. Most of their lives are spent in a dormant state, waiting for intermittent thaw, or in the small air pockets in solid ice.

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sel
The planet ‘Sel’

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Copyright 2017 Alexandra Tims