Lexember 2019: December 1-7

It is once again Lexember, the time of year when conlangers work on our lexicons.

Looking Back

Last year, I wrote a language called Eamaru/Eamarubhe from scratch to support a creative writing project called Ossia, a story about the daughter of Salus Niksubvya who is solving the puzzle of who lived in the ancient ruins she finds in the Canyons while anchoring herself in the present by telling the story of her life — a mystery which grows into obsession as she entices the God of Time and Eternity, Saämatsra, through her repeated time travel. It allowed me to move from this:

A few younger adults followed me. They pointed and said something like ut-ta-ka-mia-de-sa, which I couldn’t break into words. The syllables ta-kam happened more often than others. Ta-ka-mia less often.

To this later on:

These day-sky blossoms are harvested during the night, when the air is cool, at this time of year. They will be crated and sent via air freight to a processing center that will dry and crush them for the pigments they hold. 

Flowers are less brittle when their petals are closed.

It’s a phrase I have heard from Aðokei several times now, that I heard from Ktanja before. In Eamaru, it is, Fhin itn-me ei jabh meða ẖam rak muto ziur llejabh ba. To think that all of that refers to this? Day-sky pigment is expensive — it is not made artificially, after all — but this is what it meant?

… but also the realization (hey, drafts, right?) that the younger adults were probably not speaking Eamaru, but Dásna, spoken by the Ékkivá (accents are high tones), even though Toma learns and is taught Eamaru instead.

Ossia has a draft that is 198,000 words. The main character, Toma, learns Eamaru during the story. And, of course, you can check out the words and phrases I made in the 2018 Lexember here (a link to my tag for Eamaru).

Moving Forward

The year before, though, I was working on my Tveshi dictionary. Tveshi was my first conlang, and it is old, cumbersome, and beloved. Basically, I was the lexicon and expanding it from brief notes that looked like this:

tha, mark
thåtotei (AN), loneliness
thåtoyė (AN), Criminal
thau (NN), earth
thaufoi (DN), cavern
thaukinị (NN), Earthquake
thena (DN), Practice
thie, smear
thau (NN), earth
thaufoi (DN), cavern
thaukinị (NN), Earthquake
thena (DN), Practice
thie, smear

to robust entries that incorporate polysemy, derived words via prefixes/suffixes/compounds, verbs, and more (basically, what you’ll see farther down here). Sometimes, I have to fix and clean things a lot, too.

This year, I’m continuing that work — starting in the Ns and going down as far as I can. Apart from Lexember, I’m finishing up a poetry project right now.

December 1

Nau, /naʊ̯/ n. Class N. Deep, a term for valley, ravine, or low place. When followed by an article, this indicates the Canyon region of Narahja: nau sof /naʊ̯ soʊ̯f/, sometimes nau aif /naʊ̯ aɪ̯f/ because the Canyons are seen as divine.

I also made a phrase, reyanakourić efa mėi. It uses the word reyana, strength, with the suffix -kouri to denote that someone does something (often professional, but colloquially, it often just accentuates that someone is performing a role), and for plural. Efa is the plural emphatic article, and mėi is a first person possessive pronoun. Roughly, it means those who bring me strength, but it has the connotation of my peeps, my comrades, et cetera, in a colloquial, endearing way. It can be shortened to reiekoufam.

December 2

Nea /nɛɑ̯/, n. Class N. Hand.

Aianea /aɪ͡anɛɑ̯/, cross purpose.
Uneayi /ʊ.ˈnɛɑ̯.ji/, wealthy/well-resourced.
Enanea /ə.ˈnɑ.nɛɑ̯/, Providence.

Nåneayi /nɔ.ˈnɛɑ̯.ji/, fresh, inexperienced, novice.
Anåneait /ʌ.nɔ.ˈnɛ.a͡ɪt̪/, to try out.

Ćė nåneat måtua. 
/t͡ʃɛ nɔ.ˈnɛ.ʌt̪ ˈmɔt̪.uɑ̯/
You.informal had tried out teachings/ways.

December 3

Ninna,/ˈnĩ.ðʌ/, n. Class A. Trace, track. Aninnait, to trace, to track.

Ver ninnamị thunoyėa naui vo athovamị vė.
They (formal) tracked the young woman through the gorge and killed lim. [no gender in #Tveshi 3PS]

Ninnashåsso, storm-trace, a fulgurite (fused trace left by lightning).
Sininna, argument following from a prior.
Uninna, talent, aptitude.
Uininna, an act of kindness done for someone whom one will never meet in a place before ler arrival to make things better for lim.

December 4

Nitha /ˈni.θʌ/, n. Class D. Ditch
Anithit /ʌ.ˈni.θit̪/, to drag down into the mud, to slander, to diminish, to defame

Sher nithoiyi henehågep fågoim mėi.
You-informal-pl most likely defamed/slandered my teacher without remorse.

But I did more on December 4 than just that.

Nuita /ˈnui̯.t̪ʌ/, n. Class N. Temporal flux, temporal jumble, time travel. A neologism created by the writer of a book called Ko Foali MånauptuTime’s Beginning/Momenting/Succession of Instants Is Endless, a horror novel about a woman who gets lost in the woods and must solve a time travel puzzle to avoid being devoured by forest spirits. The term has passed into pop usage.

… I would actually read something like that.

The forest spirits, incidentally, are called klamodya (sing. klamoda) in Narahji, and the reason a Tveshi woman would be harassed by them is that the Tveshi neglected the klamodya shrines when they conquered Shija. The Tveshi word for nature or tree spirits is atuat or enayoi; the term for a klamoda is enayoi thuani, or evil tree spirit. (They’re not actually evil.)

December 5

Rahị /ˈɾɑ.hɪ/, n. Class D. Mote, speck.

Rahi, invisible, dustlike, insignificant.
Oirahị, bacterium.
Nårahi, no longer relevant.
Årahi, irrelevant.

Sirahị, prioritization. This actually means something like, the art of identifying insignificant things. Setting priorities by eliminating what is actually unimportant, right? 😂

Thuyirahị, bribe. I was asked to explain this. Thuyi- is a prefix that indicates badness or wrongness, much like nua- (the two can be used interchangeably, but the latter prefix is increasingly used less for some social reasons in the culture). It’s an allusion to how difficult it can be to know that someone has been bribed — a mote or speck that can do so much damage, but that is invisible until close inspection.

December 6

Rout /ɾo͡ʊːt̪/, n. Class N. Crevice, openingRouti /ˈɾo͡ʊː.t̪i/, openAroutait /ʌ.ˈɾo͡ʊː.t̪a͡ɪt̪/, to make space

Mịroutorifice.
Oiroutlung or other respiratory mechanism, in the case of blood-vining plants. 
Thuyirout, a bad situation that has a narrow chance of escape. 
Kaiarouta softening of the heart, often seen as a reflexive verb, akaiaroutait.

Mė mėis kaiaroutaia helai sha amatara laihua tusa mėi.
My heart will soften if le takes care of my nine bowls.

After doing this, I did a few other words and learned I had a double entry for this word and that there were already some other things in the other entry. I then merged them together. From that previous work, I have:

Rout is also used colloquially to mean opportunity or possibility. Da routi is an achieved opportunity.

December 7

Sassė /ˈsɑ.ʂə/, n. Class N. Air

Aisassė /a͡ɪ.ˈsɑ.ʂə/, air filtration system on a space ship or submarine. 
Hosassė /ho.ˈsɑ.ʂə/, atmosphere. 
Oisassė /o͡i.ˈsɑ.ʂə/, exhalation. 
Nåsassė /nɔ.ˈsɑ.ʂə/, inhalation. 

Mė våsam saishehio aisassė. 
I fixed the air filtration system for a cousin.

Transmutation

crush these
certain flower petals
the pulp red
hot beneath your fingers
sticky, sweet, spicy
what it touches
it changes
deepening grace
we will ascend like
doves into the heavens
see the down
upon your skin,
once red as sacrifice,
now white as paper
crush these
wings against the
windowpanes
your bed forgotten
hands fading
memories
this new shape
cannot grasp

On Twitter, Kaleidotrope (a specfic lit mag) gave a spam writing prompt. I’ve seen those for months at this point, but never responded, so I decided to write an off-the-cuff poem. This is that poem. I decided to put it up here on PANGRAMMATIKE because it was fun, and I’m moving away from using Twitter.

Conlang Writing Systems: Narahji

Fountain pens and conlang papers out on a table.
A Quattro pad with detached sheets. I really like the feel of this paper and how it behaves with the fountain pen inks I use. The grid design is perfect for working on my Narahji handwriting.

Over the past few months, I’ve been doodling sentences in Narahji while working on one of my writing projects. While I am definitely writing Ossia in English, occasionally I have to stop and think, “How would this actually be said in Narahji or the other conlang it’s actually spoken in?”

So I started playing with my Narahji script!

Before I get started with some fun stuff: The script is called Narahji, but it is used for most Ịgzarhjenya languages — the word Ịgzarhjenya refers to an ethnic, cultural, and linguistic group in my worldbuilding. The languages are actually quite different from one another. All of the below sentences say, Why does le feel this way (right now)? Will you (singular) ask?:

  • Důða nain purosayakpen? Hasasukdor? (Nasji)
  • Ðaveu naun burịlaben rị? Sakhozebralkhịg ćị? (Khessi)
  • Diphya nain burosælabe? Saözaịrraæ̈? (Narahji)

The script was developed in an area that would eventually become Narahji-speaking, though.

Some of the sentences I played with were based on passages from what I was writing at the time. Toma (Axopatomsa — Toma is a nickname) is the main character of the work I’m finishing up.

An example of text; note the caption.
The Narahji script says:

I am writing about Toma. Tomabhle matssa.
We are not understanding the truth. Ku otmi omohjuzyusbeneu.

Other sentences were more tangential to the work — Saämatsra, for example, is a god in the Ịgzarhjenya pantheon who is similar to what one would get if one were to combine Khronos and Apollon and add a bunch of stuff related to cosmology — the god of pulsars, the Beacon in the Eternal Night, Le Who Climbs the Ladder, Le Who Bears the Raiment of Infinity, the Devourer of All, the Hunter of Hours, the Lord of Time, and the Dancer. Saämatsra, when depicted in human form, is typically wearing the kinds of complicated robes that would test an artist or sculptor’s skill to make lifelike, with an androgynous face and very long braided hair, like ladder rope. I like Saämatsra a lot.

An example of text; note the caption.
Narahji text in both the Romanized and Narahji versions.

It reads:
Saämatsra will unbind ler hair.
Ku anä moru rịëlaịrrabägno Saämatsra.

A. LOT.

An example of text; note the caption.
I blu ku bapheyatyasös dozozamịrra. Climb the ladder home. (Lit. Climb the ladder towards the interior of your ancestors’ house.)

Saämatsra is not the only god who presides over dance in this Ịgzarhjenya cultural worldbuilding. Dance is the office of Sayimga (also Zaimga or Zainga), one of the Divine Twins. The way I wrote the Narahji conlang script involved composing a myth about dancers and a writing system crisis in which the digital encoding used by the Ịgzarhjenya was targeted by a virus in a very clever way during a time when other people wanted to invade.

Sayimga has a sibling, Anumga (also Anmga or Anka), who presides over syllabaries, often extended to other types of non-alphabetical writing systems, among a variety of other things — diplomacy, geometry, sailing, climbing, domestic policy, familial duty, friendship, and philosophy. Sayimga presides over alphabets, sacred dance, diplomacy, mathematics, and the sky.

The story of the Narahji alphabet is the story of moving from one symbolic mode to another — the House of Anumga to the House of Sayimga, brought together in their temple.

The script works this way, too. In times of paper shortages, the vowels were written so that they could “squeeze” into the consonants and save space; they oscillate between Sayimga and Anumga’s spaces.

All conlang scripts I’ve made are some variant of right-to-left (RTL). Tveshi is RTL and bottom to top, and Narahji is just RTL. From a practical perspective, I’m left-handed and much prefer writing that way — I wrote in mirror-reverse until my preschool corrected me, I loathe most pencils, and I use fast-drying fountain pen ink.

For a long time, I struggled with creating a good script. A few years ago, after building the myth about the script itself, I did a quick prayer to Hermes and Seshat one evening. (I’m a polytheist; I pray a lot about writing.) It took me under 2 hours to finalize a workable version of the conscript after legit a decade of angst.

Seshat, an Egyptian goddess, is the Mistress of the House of Books and the one who keeps the red and black ink — and so, playfully, I translated I am writing in the house of ink into Narahji.

An example of text; note the caption.
The image above shows the Narahji script form of the text, which literally means, “I am writing in the place of [type] ink.”

The Narahji is, “I bexa ku tịvamu matssabe.”

Incidentally, #amwriting hashtag would be #matssabe — the pronouns are in the verbs, so “I am writing now” is all in that one verb.

The rendering of matsit + -ssa to make “I write” is a bit aesthetic in the Romanization. The “ts” is its own sound and has its own character, and the s is doubled. But then that would be matsssit Romanized. That looks like a typo, so I didn’t do it.

In the story of Narahji script, seven dancers solved the script problem. They danced in the temple, and scribes made new characters based on their movements. This did not ultimately stop the invaders, but it did help the Ịgzarhjenya retain most of their territory when the opposing forces invaded.

I’ve always loved script-like doodling. When my dad was remodeling our house (when I was a kid), when the staircase wall was still bare, I wrote all over it with fake script symbols based on all scripts I’d been exposed to. Conlanging gives me an excuse to standardize and have a lot more fun with it.

Here’s a bit more fun.

An example of text; note the caption.
Manhjerrzaịrru ëin lexai nen tädonas knipssa. You taught me, and I am mastering it.

“Tädonas knipit” means, “to flow via gain” — a fun phrase.
An example of text; note the caption.
Dokbuhja yozaịts omtehj xai ku goti åtsu æ i tsenuad åtsu mohjuzyu omtehj. You need to know where you come from to know who you are and where you will be.

Lit. You need to know the place you come out of and need to understand your identity and your destination.
An example of text; note the caption.
Ku kolnisxus lofnælaịrru ku dåmso. The scream cut through spacetime (lit. “timeweave”).

The reason there are two pieces of paper in this image is that I screwed up writing this out so much that I had to move to a new sheet.

Publication Update!

As of today, I have a short story available in The Society of Misfit Stories Presents… February 2019 issue!

An image of the book cover for the Society of Misfit Stories' February 2019 issue.
This is the volume cover! These are all of us whose stories are in it! The cover art is by Denny Marshall, whose portfolio is here.

In “Ash Shades,” two women survive the destruction of their landing site by taking shelter in their ship. They emerge to find a local sentient species salvaging burned seeds and must navigate communication barriers to learn what happened to the rest of their crew.

It’s 7,400 words, just shy of a novelette, and the perfect length to enjoy on your shorter (passenger — please don’t read & drive) commute.

The February 2019 issue of Misfit Stories contains many other writers’ works, so you could have your commute and laundromat reading taken care of for at least the first decad of February. It’s $4.99 for a bunch of good stories, and at the link, you can pick your ebook retailer of choice.

Content warnings (highlight to see; I can’t speak for the other stories because I haven’t read them yet): Grief, death, fire, corpses, and first contact.

Conlangers, you may enjoy the linguist thrown out of her subdiscipline comfort zone.

Readers who grew up in polytheistic traditions, while the short story is not religious, it does center polytheist characters in scifi, which is still a representation issue. For everyone else, the final scene contains elements that are not consistent with traditional praxis in either’s religion. It’s a landing site disaster, so neither is prepared for proper protocol.

#Lexember: Kinship, Gender, Society

This is the final leg of #Lexember! If you’ve been following my account @eamarubhe, you may be interested in following me @kayeboesme, which is active more often. I think @eamarubhe may transform into an account related to the fiction monologue podcast I am hard at work on. My development of Eamaru is related to the podcast.

December 22.

Leam /lɛ͡ɒ̈m/, parent. Leamn /lɛ͡ɒ̈m.ˈn̩/, something related to parenting.

Leamnzi /lɛ͡ɒ̈m.ˈn̩.ˌzi/, birth parent.
Leamnef /lɛ͡ɒ̈m.ˈnɛf/, legal guardian.
Leama /lɛ͡ɒ̈m.ˈɑ/, lineage.
Leam jun /lɛ͡ɒ̈m ʒyn/, non-birth parent.

I’ve used the term birth parent here because the social gender system offers some ambiguity about the gender of the person who gives birth. There’s a temple-based renunciation of gender called zaḥeim, and these individuals will often start families during a hiatus from temple service. Eamau gender is based on a combination of biology and the social role of an individual (AKA the push and pull of who someone is and society at large). Birth parents are always kuaẖe, kuall, zaḥeim, jiut veyrin, or nijmi veyrin.

Kuaẖe somewhat corresponds to our idea of women, and it’s a gender that is typecast into roles related to family and household, neighborhood, and city affairs. Kuall is a gender that is expected to be more warlike, outgoing/roaming, and less inclined to family affairs. Jinri means something similar to trans women, often used as an adjective, as in kuaẖe jinrin or kuall jinrin.

Jiut somewhat corresponds to men. This gender is expected to do physical labor, fighting, and physically dangerous entertainment and jobs. The gender nijmi is less so. They often work in finance and business, and their socially accepted role is similar to kuall-me, but they’re seen as softer and less confrontational than kuall-me or jiut-me. Veyri means something similar to trans man, often seen as an adjective in jiut veyrin or nijmi veyrin.

December 23.

Birth parent relatives:
Iẖar /i.ˈħɑɾ/, cousin.
Mokta /mo.ˈktɑ/, older relative.
Leal /lɛ͡ɒ̈l/, grandparent.
Leala /lɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈlɑ/, great(+)grandparent.

Non-birth parent relatives:
Jellan /ʒə.ˈɬɑ/, cousin.
Ral /ðɑl/, older relative.
Leal jun /lɛ͡ɒ̈l ʒyn/, grandparent.
Leala jun /lɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈlɑ ʒyn/, great(+)grandparent.

Generics:
Ðalle /ðɒ̈.ˈɬɛ/, older sibling.
Fhat /ɸɑt̪/, younger sibling.
Bea /bɛ͡ɒ̈/, relative. Beaa /bɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈɑ/, older relatives. Beaasum /bɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈɑ.ˌsym/, ancestors. Eḥ beaasum sak /ɛʔ bɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈɑ.ˌsym sɑk/, an ancestor.

December 24.

Eliu /ə.ˈli͡y/, the part of a family that lives together.

Meaz /mɛ͡ɒ̈z/, familyMeazn /mɛ͡ɒ̈z.ˈn̩/, familial. Meaznzi /mɛ͡ɒ̈z.ˈn̩.ˌzi/, head of household. Meaza /mɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈzɑ/, powerful family. Meazaszi /mɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈzɑ.ˌzːi/ someone disowned.

Meazaszi eze ei ðeḥe zei!
/mɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈzɑ.ˌzːi ə.ˈzɛ ɛ͡i ðə.ˈʔɛ zɛ͡i/
Those two must be disowned!

In the above sentence, ðeḥe is a particle that indicates the imperative future tense. It’s difficult to translate this into English because our word must could also mean that some speaker is incredulously referring to people who have done something scandalous. That meaning is not present in the Eamaru.

December 25.

Sautor /sɒ̈͡y.ˈt̪oɾ/, to conquer.

Siub sauto ba riu ẖam set ðalleta-me viuno ba.
/si͡yb sɒ̈͡y.ˈt̪o bɑ ɾi͡y ħɑm sɛt̪ ðɒ̈.ˈɬɛ.ˌt̪ɒ̈ mɛ vi͡y.ˈno bɑ/
We conquered them and killed their sages.

Today’s #Lexember refers to the political strife in Eamau society that has led to the teas (slums) existing in the first place within conquered cities — typically in the buildings ravaged by war while the new city springs up in walled areas.

It’s also a coy memorial reference to the destruction of temples and outlawing of non-Christian religions in Late Antiquity, plus the murder of philosophers like Hypatia. So.

December 26.

Yat /jɑt̪/, school.

Yat no eal-me
/jɑt̪ no ɛ͡ɒ̈l mɛ/
Grammar school

Yat vusn
/jɑt̪ vys.ˈn̩/
University

Yat no ðalleta-me
/jɑt̪ no ðɒ̈.ˈɬɛ.ˌt̪ɒ̈ mɛ/
Philosophical school

Yat no ifhea lloktn
/jɑt̪ no i.ˈɸɛ͡ɒ̈ ɬokt.ˈn̩/
Religious officiant school

December 27.

Uzmait /yz.ˈmɒ̈͡it̪/, regulation. Uzmaitn /yz.ˈmɒ̈͡it̪.ˌn̩/, regulated.

The two examples below use negation words that are applied to nouns or used on their own, naið and alli. The word naið is used to indicate negative-sentiment negation, and I’ve translated it as lack of in the example below, but it could also mean noticed absence.

Alli is just no — it indicates that the noun it accompanies is not present. Alem naið and alem alli, the word mistake attached to the negation particle, mean without a problem and no mistake respectively.

Zaut-me viuno uzmait naið.
/zɒ̈͡yt̪ mɛ vi͡y.ˈno yz.ˈmɒ̈͡it̪ nɒ̈͡ið/
Lack of regulation kills people.

Zaut-me viuno uzmait alli.
/zɒ̈͡yt̪ mɛ vi͡y.ˈno yz.ˈmɒ̈͡it̪ ɒ̈.ˈɬi/
No regulation kills people.

December 28.

Jal /ʒɑl/, snowJaln /ʒɒ̈l.ˈn̩/, snowyLlet jaln /ɬɛt̪ ʒɒ̈l.ˈn̩/, snow-covered ground. Lit. pane/surface snowy.

Llet jaln mubo ive iuka no leamnzi.
/ɬɛt̪ ʒɒ̈l.ˈn̩ my.ˈbo i.ˈvɛ i͡y.ˈkɑ no lɛ͡ɒ̈m.ˈn̩.ˌzi/
My birth parent’s property is covered in snow.

I was looking for inspiration for a conlang word at my mom’s house. In Upstate NY, even when it isn’t snowy, there’s often a layer of snow on the ground even when sidewalks and roads are passable. Llet jaln is a way to say that in my conlang.

December 29.

Fhai /ɸɒ̈͡i/, candidate. Fhai al leam jun /ɸɒ̈͡i ɑl lɛ͡ɒ̈m ʒyn/, spousal candidate.

Fhai ful al ktaðu no illete.
/ɸɒ̈͡i fyl ɑl ktɒ̈.ˈðy no i.ˈɬə.ˌt̪ɛ/
Light fiction sold for travelers to entertain themselves.
Literally, this means candidates for the role of a book belonging to the roadside.

December 30.

Zealle /zɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈɬɛ/, law. Zeallen /zɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈɬɛ.ˌn̩/, legal. Zeallea /zɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈɬɛ.ˌɑ/, law, emphatic. Zealleas /zɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈɬɛ.ˌɑs/, laws someone doesn’t like. Zeallesum /zɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈɬɛ.ˌsym/, laws (pl.), referring to the sets of laws that are written down.

Fhai zeallen /ɸɒ̈͡i zɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈɬɛ.ˌn̩/, bill, law-in-progress.
Zeallesum teitn /zɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈɬɛ.ˌsym t̪ɛ͡it̪.ˈn̩/, food safety laws.

December 31.

For this day, I had to make a lot of words because I also did not have a word for joy. In the sentence below, utkenez is joy, composed of ut + kenez, novelty + contentment. I also wrote a temporal-only version of in, usak.

Vauð /vɒ̈͡yð/, yearVauðn /vɒ̈͡yð.ˈn̩/, annualVauða /vɒ̈͡yð.ˈɑ/, cycle, with implied circularity. 

Utkenez vauð kutn usak bhei ðeḥe siub!
/yt̪.ˈkɛ.ˌnəz vɒ̈͡yð kyt̪.ˈn̩ ys.ˈɑk βɛ͡i ðə.ˈʔɛ si͡yb/
Have joy in the new year!

Thank you all for following me however you did this Lexember! I wish you a bright and happy new year filled with schwas, glottal stops, and so much linguistic fun!

2018 in Review

It’s the end of Lexember, the constructed language month that is somewhat between NaNoWriMo and Inktober in its intensity level.

Autumn was busy for me. Academia is always more intense in the fall semester than in the spring — everything is so compressed between mid-August and late December. At work, I was running an event committee. I also wrote two academic articles, one of which has appeared in the publication already.

This autumn, I also took time off to go to my youngest sister’s wedding and visited my mom for a few days. I attended a library conference in Montréal and ate gluten-free croissants. It’s probably no wonder that I felt so tired.

Writing-wise, I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much this year. 2018 felt like several years experienced in layers all on top of each other. There have been so many discrete chunks and cycles of time within this year that it feels long and endless even after the fact.

Major things

I sold a sort story to Misfit Stories this summer, and it will be published in the February 2019 issue. I am very excited because I have not sold a short story before.

It’s not an overtly queer story, but it does have some #ownvoices elements in that the main character is from a similar religious background to me, raised in Western Neopaganism. It’s about two women who land on a new planet and have to figure out what happened to the rest of the landing crew.

I decided a few years ago that all of the main characters in my contemporary and near-future work would be from that background because I don’t see us accurately represented in stories.*

I also had a poem published in Illumen and another one published in Kaleidotrope.

Other things that happened

Thing One

I moved into a new apartment, and I have a better writing/reading area.

Thing Two

I wrote a novella about library science in a far-future setting. I guess if I wanted to get jargon-y about it, it’s a New Adult piece about a librarian apprentice adjusting to her first professional job while investigating an act of information vandalism that could harm the delicate postwar politics in her country.

It’s the least dour story I have ever written.

Thing Three

I wrote a lot of #OssiaPodcast and then took a pause from it because I realized that I needed to do a bit more worldbuilding for it to write an effective draft.

That’s one of the reasons Lexember is focusing on the language Eamaru. As many who know what I write may have heard, almost all of my stories are set in a timeline that spans 35,000 years on a set of planets even if the stories are otherwise very disconnected.

I have not world-built the Canyon regions of 20,000 years before the events of the podcast monologue of Epiphany, and I need to develop a bit more of the geopolitics and how the regime there collapsed beyond the fact that a supervolcanic eruption was the main environmental culprit. I also need to figure out which cultural elements survived into the present day and which will be unique to Eamau culture.

Thing Four

I’m plugging away at my epic that draws themes from the stories of Iphigenia in a far-future setting, and I’m near the end of a part of it that I know will have to be significantly overhauled (Book 5, which has a target of 120K for length; I’m currently a few K over) — but at least it’s good to have all of this down on paper.

I can’t create the story I want until I have a draft of all 1.3 million words or so, and I anticipate that only 20-30% of the words will be the same as the words in the final version. Also, the continuity edits will be a monster.

Word Count

I saved this for last because word count is not an accurate reflection of how much time and effort I spend writing. I can say that after I subscribed to RescueTime premium, it became much easier to pull out the amount of time I was spending on creative writing and librarian article work.

After my account integration, I spent 124 hours in Scrivener writing, 11 hours in Overleaf working on conlangs and worldbuilding, 12 hours in Microsoft Word proofreading/typesetting/&c, and about 2 hours of time in Typora and MWeb reviewing character notes and the like. Total = ~149 hours

Before my account integration, my informal tallies of “Design and Composition”-category time — which includes Scrivener, Word, and the like, only I can’t break out the stats — was somewhere in the ballpark of 205 hours.

The total, of course, is ~354 hours of creative time. This doesn’t include any of the time I spent reading through my writing offline or in my ereading app to proofread novellas or stories, and it also does not account for the fact that I do most early poetry drafts in longhand.

I wrote 321,000 words this year. This was divided among the various novella, short story, podcast, and novel projects I have.


* Tangent: I hate the new Sabrina, but I grew up Neopagan in the Midwest during the Satanic Panic, so the feelings I have about its centering of Christianity and the potential damage its portrayals can do to Wicca, Neopaganisms, and witchcraft are not trivial. I agree with many of the opinions expressed in this article — I am also very anxious about a new Satanic Panic, probably because of what happened to me during the first one when I was still a child. The writers in Sabrina even named their student reading club “WICCA,” which will eventually distort Google search results for anyone trying to look up non-fandom-related content online. My experiences as a religious minority in Missouri as a kid have contributed to so much of my adult outlook in good and bad ways. In a good way, they taught me to value religious freedom and pluralism and to stand up for my core values. In a bad way, growing up in a religious minority and worshipping many gods worsened the bullying I experienced as a kid, and I am not over what happened to me psychologically. I think that the best way to improve rep and shift the dial towards the positive is to deliberately focus on writing characters from a background similar — but not necessarily identical — to mine.

#Lexember in the fatiguing darkness of winter

This week, how dark it is outside really hit me. The library where I work is in a basement, and the window in the pit courtyard has been taken away due to a construction site. We won’t get it back until at least midsummer.

At this time of the year given that windowless existence, the only sun I see when I don’t have meetings in other buildings is after sunrise and before I enter the building — essentially, ~7 AM when the sun rises until my commute is over at ~9 AM. It’s black as pitch by the time I leave for home. Even with the window, December is always a struggle. (The light doesn’t really reach our offices, but it’s nice to just know there’s a window a few dozen meters away.) I become constantly fatigued and lose a grip on my circadian rhythm despite using bright-light circadian glasses while I’m getting ready in the morning. They help marginally, so I’m sure most of this is psychological.

Thankfully, our university closes almost completely between the 24th and 1st, so I can do a reset and get more sunlight. I have today (December 21) off, and I am posting my Lexember stuff now before going off to bake lussekatt and pray to Helios because the winter solstice is this evening. We have a severe weather alert for high winds, flooding, and a deluge of rain.

Many of the words this week were themed after my growing restlessness about the short days.

Day Fifteen.

Kel /kɛl/. Sort of.

Febn kel ei rim.
/fəb.ˈn̩ kɛl ɛ͡i ɾim/
I’m kinda tired.

Febn kel ei alif-mi rim.
/fəb.ˈn̩ kɛl ɛ͡i ɒ̈l.ˈif.ˌmi ɾim/
I’m kinda done.

Feb /fɘb/, fatigue. Febn /fəb.ˈn̩/, fatigued. Feba /fə.ˈbɑ/, drowsiness. Feban /fə.ˈbɑn/, sleepy, drowsy.

Day Sixteen.

Alem /ɒ̈.ˈlɛm/, mistake. Alemn /ɒ̈.ˈlɛm.ˌn̩/, adj form.

Alem ful maso neð rim.
/ɒ̈.ˈlɛm fyl mɒ̈.ˈso nɛð ɾim/
I don’t like mistakes.

Vus alemn bhei za.
/vys ɒ̈.ˈlɛm.ˌn̩ βɛ͡i zɑ/
Le doesn’t have ler priorities straight. Lit., Le has [nonphysical] a mistaken center.

Day Seventeen.

Iunaḥ /i͡yn.ˈɑʔ/, darkness. Iunaḥn /i͡yn.ˈɑʔ.ˌn̩/, dark

Iunaḥn ei teltu. 
/i͡yn.ˈɑʔ.ˌn̩ ɛ͡i t̪əl.ˈt̪y/
Winter is dark.

Day Eighteen.

Es /ɛs/, on account of, because of, with the cause of.

Febn iunaḥ no teltu es ei rim.
/fəb.ˈn̩ i͡yn.ˈɑʔ no t̪əl.ˈt̪y ɛs ɛ͡i ɾim/
I am tired on account of winter’s darkness.

Day Nineteen.

Un /yn/, weakUnzi /yn.ˈzi/, something/one who is weak. Unor /yn.ˈoɾ/, to weaken.

Un ei kta no teltu.
/yn ɛ͡i ktɑ no təl.ˈt̪y/ 
Winter light is weak.

Ben /bɘn/, strongBenzi /bən.ˈzi/, strong one/thing.Benor /bən.ˈoɾ/, to strengthen

Ben ei vus za no.
/bɘn ɛ͡i vys zɑ no/
Ler foundation is strong. Lit. Ler center is strong.

Reflexively, benor makes to improve:

Beno teilva.
/bə.ˈno t̪ɛ͡il.ˈvɑ/
You-singular are improving. Lit. You strengthen yourself.

Day Twenty.

Kabek kɒ̈.ˈbɛk/, regimen. Kabek teitn /kɒ̈.ˈbɛk t̪ɛ͡it̪.ˈn̩/, diet. Kabek no ifhea lloktn /kɒ̈.ˈbɛk no i.ˈɸɛ͡ɒ̈ ɬokt.ˈn̩/, the register of rites performed by a temple. Kabek rusoḥn /kɒ̈.ˈbɛk ɾy.ˈsoʔ.ˌn̩/, preventative health plan. Kabekn /kɒ̈.ˈbɛk.ˌn̩/, regimented, allotted.

Teit teas ov avuyo kabekn-mi kaubo eam.
/t̪ɛ͡it̪ t̪ɘ.ˈɒ̈s ov ɒ̈.ˈvy.ˌjo kɒ̈.ˈbɛk.ˌn̩ mi kɒ̈͡y.ˈbo ɛ͡ɒ̈m/
The state has allotted food to the poor.

Day Twenty-One.

Fhor /ɸoɾ/, to go. Fhor us-mito return (used w/refl. pron).

Fho us-mi kta iuka no ebhari ẖezn!
/ɸo ys mi ktɑ i͡y.ˈkɑ no ə.ˈβɑ.ɾi ħəz.ˈn̩/
The sunlight returns!

H̱eznbhe fhor ðaḥav dei.
/ħəz.ˈn̩.ˌβɛ ɸo ðɒ̈.ˈʔɑv dɛ͡i/
You-dual will likely go home.

‘Twas the Second Week of #Lexember

So, before I get started, let me just say that I joined Pillowfort as kayeboesme. It is an interesting place, like if LiveJournal and Reddit had a technology child, but very similar to any other social media site out there. I wrote a conlang post to test how IPA performed there.

A thought occurred to me: If I introduced my conlang on Pillowfort, how would I refer to Pillowfort? The word fort doesn’t translate well because forts are generally where soldiers who kill other people are kept. They’re not associated with childhood pillow houses in a living room. Someone would first have to explain what that was.

For the sake of argument, though, it would be translated literally as ẖeaza jut ful e /ħɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈzɑ ʒyt̪ fyl ɛ/, indoor place composed of pillows. Maybe it would eventually become ẖeajuta /ħɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈʒyt̪.ˌɑ/ from ẖeaz + jut + a.

/z/ and /ʒ/ would merge into /ʒ/. The -a is an intensifying particle added to nouns, which is how words like kta (light) become ktaa (knowledge). There’s an example below of how ktaa is pronounced.

Day Eight.

Tat /t̪ɑt̪/. Pipe.

Tat ẖezn /t̪ɑt̪ ħɛz.ˈn̩/, plumbing system, usually of a residential home. 

Tat ẖeazn /t̪ɑt̪ ħɛ͡ɒ̈z.ˈn̩/, plumbing, generic.

Tat ẖezn ktuto ba siub.
/t̪ɑt̪ ħɛz.ˈn̩ kty.ˈto bɑ si͡yb/
They broke the house’s plumbing.

I also did a lot of work on pronouns. I decided that there is a singular/dual/plural system with them. These are most of the pronouns; there are additional ones that are occasionally used because the pronoun system is semi-open.

Third person singular
S/O/IO: za /zɑ/
Refl: zaur /zɑ͡yɾ/
Emph. refl: zalva /zɒ̈l.ˈvɑ/

Third person dual
S/O/IO: zei /zɛ͡i/
Refl: zar /zɑɾ/
Emph. Refl: zeila /zɛ͡i.ˈlɑ/

Third person plural
S/O/IO: siub /si͡yb/
Refl: sar /sɑɾ/
Emph. Refl: sala /sɒ̈.ˈlɑ/

Day Nine.

Kte /ktɛ/, Warmth. Ktea /ktə.ˈɑ/, heat. Kten /ktɛn/, warm. Ktean /ktə.ˈɑn/, hot.

Teb /t̪ɛb/, Coolness. Teba /t̪ə.ˈbɑ/, cold. Tebn /t̪əb.ˈn̩/, cool. Teban /t̪ə.ˈbɑn/, cold.

/t̪ə.ˈbɑn t̪əl.t̪y ys ɛ͡i əβ.ˈɑɾ.ˌi ħɛz.ˈn̩/
Teban teltu us ei ebhari ẖezn.
The sun is cold in winter.

Day Ten.

Te /t̪ɛ/. Periphery. Ten /t̪ɛn/, peripheral. Idiomatically, indicates unimportance.

Te ei neð rum kteafh.
/t̪ɛ ɛ͡i nɛð ðym ktɛ͡ɒ̈ɸ/
Electricity is not unimportant.

Day Eleven.

Vuru /vy.ˈðy/. Eating utensil. Vuru ven /vy.ˈðy vɛn/, stick used for picking up food.

Vuru eḥ /vy.ˈðy ɛʔ/, spork, slang term, lit. one utensil. Spork is biuð /bi͡yð/.

Day Twelve.

Ktaru /ktɒ̈.ˈðy/. Window.

Ktaru lloktn /ktɒ̈.ˈðy ɬokt.ˈn̩/, a window that looks upon an inner temple’s icons where the public may pray.

Ktaru kten /ktɒ̈.ˈðy ktɛn/, transparent solar power windows.

Ktaðu /ktɒ̈.ˈðy/. Book. Ktaðu eneð /ktɒ̈.ˈðy ən.ˈɛð/, cookbook. Ktaðu lloktn /ktɒ̈.ˈðy ɬokt.ˈn̩/, sacred text.

Ifhea lloktn sak ei ktaðu eze.
i.ˈɸɛ͡ɒ̈ ɬokt.ˈn̩ sɑk ɛ͡i ktɒ̈.ˈðy ə.ˈzɛ
The books are located in the temple.

Incidentally, these words are not completely non-distinguishable. Plurals are formed with particles. Ktaru ful means the windowsKtaðu eze means the knowable quantity of books. (If you visited the temple, you could count them.) 

Eze is a human pluralizer, which books take for a variety of flowery cultural reasons. Vusn ei ktaðu me uses me, the generic human plural. It means, Books are important.

Animates receive other pluralizers. There are no cats on Ameisa, but for argument’s sake, let’s say someone brought cats there. Let’s say ket became the word for cat (pronounced /kæt/ in Standard American English/SAE) because /kɛt̪/ is close, and the vowel in SAE cat isn’t present in Eamaru. Bufhi sak ei ket bathe cats are in the apartment. Jut ful maso ket meða, cats like pillows.

Day Thirteen.

Tiuðor /t̪i͡y.ˈðoɾ/. To explain, to describe.

Tiuðor ktaa-mi /t̪i͡y.ˈðoɾ ktɒ̈.ˈɑ-ˌmi/, to instruct, to teach.

Rim ktaðu lloktn fa tiuðo ktaa-mi kau zei.
ɾim ktɒ̈.ˈðy ɬokt.ˈn̩ fɑ t̪i͡y.ˈðo ktɒ̈.ˈɑ-ˌmi kɒ̈͡y zɛ͡i
Those two have been teaching me from sacred texts.

Day Fourteen.

Bhekor /βə.ˈkoɾ/, to give an account [of], describe.

Uta bheko bavo dei.
/y.ˈt̪ɑ βə.ˈko bɒ̈.ˈvo dɛ͡i/
You two described the novel thing.

The above is non-reflexive. To make something about your (the subject’s) account-giving and not the topic about which you are giving an account, the reflexive pronoun is used. In this case, that is salathey themselves. It’s the version of the plural used for 3+ people.

Bheko ðaḥav sala.
/βə.ˈko ðɒ̈.ˈʔɑv sɒ̈.ˈlɑ/
I expect they’ll give an account.

As #Lexember Begins, #Eamarubhe

This is the language that I am building.

ɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈmɑ.ˌðy.βɛ
bh = β
r = /ɾ/ in all places but before /u/, /ɒ̈/, and /ɑ/, where it is /ð/

ɛ͡ɒ̈.m is a root for empire, and Eama, great empire, is a global power. ɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈmɑ.ðy (Eamaru) means esteemed imperial language, and ɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈmɑ.ˌðy.βɛ (Eamarubhe) is just a more pretentious way of saying the language of the Eama. This is a language spoken in the Canyon region of Ameisa 20,000 years or so before the beginning of Epiphany.

Here are my first seven days of work.

Day One. 

H̱ez. /ħɛz/. House, domicile, dwelling. H̱ezn. /ħɛz.ˈn̩/, housed, stable. H̱eznbhe. /ħɛz.ˈn̩.ˌβɛ/, one’s own house or the house relevant to the discussion.

Llokt. /ɬokt/. Deity. Lloktn./ɬokt.ˈn̩/, divine. H̱ez lloktn /ħɛz ɬokt.ˈn̩/, divine house, the part of a temple where the deities’ icons are housed that can be shut off from the outer part of the temple.

Day Two.

I͡y.ˈkɛ i.ˈɸɛ͡ɒ̈ ðy.ˈsoʔ.ˌn̩ sɑk fɛ͡ɒ̈.ˈko ðɒ̈.ˈʔɑv ɾim.
Iuke ifhea rusoḥn sak feako ðaḥav rim.
I will probably hear it in the lecture hall.

Llet. /ɬɛt̪/ Panel, pane, thin flat surface. Llet kteafhn /ɬɛt̪ ktɛ͡ɒ̈ɸ.ˈn̩/, solar panel.

Day Three.

Rum. /ðym/. Blanket. Rum ebhan /ðym ɘβ.ˈɑn/, heated blanket.

Ðum. /ðym/. Brick. Ðum e dium tisn /ðym ɛ di͡ym t̪is.ˈn̩/, a brick of dried [plant name]. H̱ez e ðum ful /ħɛz ɛ ðym fyl/, house of bricks.

Day Four.

kə.nɑb.ˈn̩.ˌzi y.ˈny lɛ͡i.ˈso kɒ̈͡y ɾim
Kenabnzi unu leiso kau rim.
I have been searching for a fugitive.

Kenabor. /kə.ˈnɑb.ˌoɾ/, to run very quickly. Kenabnzi /kə.nɑb.ˈn̩.ˌzi/, fugitive, someone in flight. Zaut kenabn /zɒ̈yt̪ kə.ˈnɑb.ˌn̩/, a person who runs athletically. H̱ez kenabn /ħɛz kə.ˈnɑb.ˌn̩/, indoor track. Tavak kenabn /t̪ɒ̈v.ˈɑk kə.ˈnɑb.ˌn̩/, outdoor track.

Day Five.

Teas sak ei neð teita teitn.
t̪ɘ.ˈɒ̈s sɑk ɛ͡i nɛð t̪ɛ͡it̪.ˈɑ t̪ɛ͡it̪.ˈn̩
Satiety is not found in the districts of the poor.

Teit /t̪ɛ͡it̪/,  Food, generic. Teitn /t̪ɛ͡it̪.ˈn̩/, adj, related to the kitchen and cookery. Llet teitn /ɬɛt̪ t̪ɛ͡it̪.ˈn̩/, any type of flat cookware or dinnerware. Kta teitn /ktɑ t̪ɛ͡it̪.ˈn̩/, grow light. Teit nun /t̪ɛ͡it̪ nyn/, a type of cuisine eaten by mourners and ascetics.

Day Six.

H̱ale. /ħɒ̈.ˈlɛ/ Household shrine. H̱alea /ħɒ̈.ˈlɛ.ˌɒ̈/, a temple that is on a family’s private property. H̱ale tavn /ħɒ̈.ˈlɛ t̪ɒ̈v.ˈn̩/, an outdoor shrine on a family’s property.

Day Seven.

Avuyor. /ɒ̈.ˈvy.ˌyoɾ/ If reflexive, to bring. If non-reflexive, to take [to others]. Teit meða avuyo bo zalva /t̪ɛ͡it̪ mə.ˈðɑ ɒ̈.ˈvy.ˌjo bo zɒ̈l.ˈvɑ/, le may be bringing food. Teit meða avuyo bo za /t̪ɛ͡it̪ mə.ˈðɑ ɒ̈.ˈvy.ˌjo bo zɑ/, le may be taking food.

Writing in Binary

A map of the Kalqaiki Islands that shows the extreme differences between high and low tides.

I’ve worked from maps for science fiction stories since I was in my mid- to late teens. According to writers on the Early Internet, a good map grounded a science fiction world in reliable possibilities.

There was a lot about geology I didn’t know, though, until I became a geology librarian and started going to geosciences colloquia and talks. As an English major, astro minor, who graduated about 10 years ago (technically, my job is to liaise to the astro, geo, and physics departments, and geo at the uni includes paleontology), the only geosciences class I had was planetary science. As an elective senior year, I took a course on natural disasters.

Planetary science had taught me the signs of water on Mars and the types of terrain common on planets. On Ameisa, for example, the region called the Canyons is actually chaos terrain, and it’s the oldest rock on the planet — the chaos terrain extends even beyond the shores of Narahja to the islands of Nasja, which are the peaks and plateaus of the terrain as it tapers off towards the other continents.

What I did not integrate into my maps at the time was an understanding of wet and dry zones in rotating planets — which I learned about in a geo colloquium about three years ago — but that ship has sailed on Ameisa, so to speak. One of the reasons global warming on Earth is causing changes in rain patterns is that the equator is wet, an area beyond the equator in both directions is dry, and then it becomes wet on towards the temperate zones and the poles. The equatorial wet zone and the dry bands that follow them in the northern and southern hemispheres grow wider as a planet warms, according to many scientists who study such things. There is very little desert on Ameisa, even in the zones that are typically dry. On the map below, Bisa, Marzū, and Qapwā are equatorial desert due to an ecological catastrophe.

The other thing I didn’t integrate was the impact of Ameisa being one part of a binary planet system, which would make it highly tectonically active due to tidal heating from Laseå. I just didn’t want to deal with earthquakes.

What I ended up doing on Ameisa was making broad areas of the landscape nigh uninhabitable due to earthquake zones and megatsunamis. The entire east coast of the Shēdak is uninhabitable — there’s a mountain range along the coast constantly pummeled by tsunamis — and most people in Qawākam live inland on its big island. I also looked at innovators and engineers on Earth who were designing tsunami-proof buildings for those societies that do live in tsunami zones.

The planet Ameisa, with some light annotations about political units (countries).
Ameisa. You can tell I set a lot of stories here by the degree to which I provide political/logistical annotations. I have other maps of Ameisa with more clutter on them.

Laseå, the other planet in the binary system.
Laseå. I don’t set very many stories here, and this is my only map of the world. (Except I have a Draft 1 of this one.)

Meditations on binary planet system dynamics led to Kalqaiki, now uninhabited for millennia. (Context: My Aeon Timeline goes on for ~35,000 years.) At one point in the distant past, a bunch of rich people found this island range and decided to turn it into a recreational/resort playground. It was Ameisa’s first spacefaring age, the wealthy were egregiously out of touch with the masses, and they left a lot of infrastructure on the island range to deal with the inconvenient earthquakes and tsunamis.

The people who lived on Kalqaiki for generations after the fall of that civilization were the descendants of the voluntary and indentured staff who set up their lives on these islands. Kalqaiki was also the only place on Ameisa with a plant that could be ground to make legit blue pigments. It grows in the intertidal marshes there, and for a long time, the plant was not grown anywhere else.

There is no word for blue in most of my conlangs; I almost always use the word opaque or some variant because blue eyes, the sky, and the sea are all illusions of color. For darker blues, much of the time I write the words purple or indigo, we’re actually talking about dark blue and navy — color words occupy a different semantic space in my work than they do in traditional English usage. Of course, purple and indigo just as often mean colors we assign to the semantic space of purple and indigo, too.

A map of the Kalqaiki Islands that shows the extreme differences between high and low tides.
Kalqaiki islands. The part still above water during high tide is the part that was once inhabited, now in ruins.

The map above is rough — a story doodle of the islands. Kalq- is a prefix that loosely translates to all in the conlang, which I added to the map after doing a bit of linguistic work on the three languages spoken on the islands. The conlang includes a phrasebook section with sentences like:

  • Ude nimdarmo ði xixto dið nuaxe. The earthquake forecast today is bad. Lit., Forecast with respect to earthquakes at today bad.
  • To amu zi, muðpaiðo sis etpu ðai? Is a tsunami coming? Lit., Yes or no, directionally here me-wards comes tsunami?
  • Emo nuaxe dið mebo? What is the strength of the earthquake?
  • Podel pilo tal nimnuaxe. The earthquake is a 9.4.

One of the things I have to account for in Laseå-Ameisa is the massive difference between high and low tide — the kilometers of saltwater marshes and their impact on trade routes, plus what features in the landscape make for a good harbor when the difference between high and low tide is so vast. On my major continent maps, cities are inland on the waterways; most rivers show tidal features for a ways inland.

All in all, I agree with the idea that maps are important — but I think that especially for settings that are not a direct Earth-Moon system clone —— such as binary planet systems, Trojan worlds, and the like —— it’s important to recognize the gaps in one’s knowledge and seek to get a good enough (not perfect) grasp of how things like basic geology impact the daily lives of people. One can go to talks, read some good books/audiobooks, or even look around on the arXiv at preprints on exoplanets to see how scientists think about these very different worlds. And then the maps, conlangs, and stories will just get even more fun.