Progress Report – July 2012

July 2012 Posted Works

July 2012 began with creating a context topic for the various HG Wells stories, called
Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | July 2012
Clockworks: The Times of the HG Wells Collection. The first story I placed into that context was First Born, which is also in the In Between Days context as it’s a bridge story. Also, I added Desperation and Recruitment and then The Honky Tonk Angel.

I then began adding an HG Wells story, Spring Thaw.

In addition, I also responded to a weekly challenge about new things with difficult consequences with a story called Tumult. I also contributed to a Round Round story (still in the works) called Storm Clouds, contributing (so far) sections called Go Badgers, Diplomacy, The Cold-Blooded Blues and Chaos and Control. And I added a drabble called Barely Tolerable, meant to be a missing scene from Intolerance. I added the story of Kevin and Josie (Jhasi)’s first date, The Honky Tonk Angel.

The monthly challenge was called “A Page from the Past”. Hence this was an opportunity to finally create and complete a new Interphases story, Concord. I also placed it into context (the story is in the Interphases series but it also works as an In Between Days prequel).  Also, I put An Announcement, Barely Tolerable and We Meet Again into similar context.

On Star Trek Logs, I responded to a prompt about experiencing loss with a TNG story, Loss. I also added Broken Seal. In response to a prompt about rituals, I added Ceremonial.

On Trek United, I added A Single Step. And on Fanfiction.net, I added And the Livin’ is Easy and Cobbled Together.

WIP Corner

I continued working on the E2 stories, polishing the third and adding to the fourth one.

Prep Work

I created an HTML version of Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plain, in anticipation of the next Times of the HG Wells story for Ad Astra. Also, I worked a bit on jespah.com and streamlined the footers.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

The search for work continues to be a productivity killer. I am also in the midst of working on a project for a site where I am a Marketing Associate, so that took up some of my time.

Review – Waiting

Review – Waiting

Background

I wanted to follow up on The Light, and continue to follow the original characters who had been introduced in that work. Hence, Waiting was born. It was also a response to a prompt of the same name.

Characters

At the end of The Light, Ethan Shapiro has just seen his friend, Andrew Miller, get the girl – Karin Bernstein. By all accounts, Ethan approves of the match and, certainly, has taken no steps to prevent it and has raised no objections. But all is not as it seems.

In addition, their friend Azar Hamidi has watched the exchange, a kind of little dance among the participants.

Together with Shelby Pike, they wait on the chow line as Lili O’Day serves dinner. Shelby notices Andy and Karin acting strange and, perhaps, overly anxiously. She sits down with Hoshi Sato and Maryam Haroun. Shelby comments knowingly that it’s likely Karin and Andrew’s third date. Hoshi agrees. Maryam doesn’t know what that means, so one of her friends whispers to her. Maryam, a little shocked, mentions that she won’t do that until she’s married. That is, this is going to be the date where Andrew and Karin go all the way.

When they have departed, Azar and Ethan commiserate. Azar notices that Ethan is bothered by this, but vows to keep the secret, so long as Ethan keeps his (Azar’s) own secret about harboring a bit of a crush on Maryam. For Azar, it would not be proper to go on dates until he was introduced to her family.

woman_in_hijab
woman_in_hijab (Photo credit: xgthox)

As Shiite Muslims, Azar Hamidi and Maryam Haroun are of one sect. Another Muslim character, Ramih Azar, is Sunni (he is not in this story). But Maryam and Azar are the more religious two of the three Muslim crew members. The question of which sect is more observant is a complicated one, and I don’t pretend to answer it. All I go with is that Maryam has lived in a Western city (Winnipeg) whereas Azar is from Iran. Ramih, on the other hand, is Indonesian. I settle the matter by making it so that Maryam wears a hijab and is very strict about who to marry and how far to go before marriage. In the E2 stories, it’s revealed that she was only kissed twice before marriage, whereas Azar has had some sexual relationships. But for Azar during Waiting, all he wants to do is get closer. He may be thinking of other things, but is not prepared to push them at that moment in time.

As for Ethan, he is finding that he is very interested in Karin and, having allowed Andrew to get there first, he’s kicking himself. He’ll have to wait for everything to play out over time.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I think the story came out pretty well. I didn’t want to make it too clichéd in terms of who retains their virginity, who is shocked, who is aggressive, etc. However, I also wanted to handle the diverse religious elements respectfully.


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Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

Every author needs a character surrogate. I have a few – Sheilagh Bernstein, Eriecho, Gina Nolan, Ethan Shapiro, Seppa, and HD Avery come to mind. But none are as attuned to me, or as similar to me, as Lili O’Day.

Origins

I was thinking about writing Reversal for a while before I started, and I needed a name for my heroine.  I decided on her full name for a few reasons. First, the name flows and is pretty. But – bringing her down to earth – her initials are CLO’D. Did her parents really mean to refer to her as a clod? Perhaps, but not in a negative manner. Lili reveals, in Fortune, that her mother was a potter, so perhaps the backhanded reference to clod refers to a moldable clod of earth.

I also liked the short name, Lili, as it’s casual yet feminine, but also feels more youthful than Lili really is (Lili started off, in Reversal, as being 48 years old, just like I was at the time).

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

It took me several months to come up with a real face for Lili, who is described as having eyes that are the lightest blue – nearly white in appearance, although she is not blind – and hair that is straight and platinum blonde. Her body is a little chunky although not too much, with a decent albeit not a knockout figure. Her lower teeth are a little crooked. She is self-conscious about her belly.

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
Naomi Watts

After kicking around and, ultimately, rejecting the idea of the actress Jessica Tuck, I went with actress Naomi Watts.  Watts is lovely, to be sure, but is also fighting some signs of aging like parentheses lines around her mouth, much like Lili is. Her eyes aren’t light enough; contact lenses would have to fix that. But she also, to my mind, carries some emotional heft. I like it that she’s not an Angelina Jolie.

Personality and Background

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
Lili with Marie Helêne Ducasse O’Day

Smart yet not overly so, Lili’s talent is in cooking. But she never would have gotten there if it had not been for some seemingly unrelated events, plus sheer determination. At age nine, her parents die in a house fire at their home on Titan, in New France. Lili, at the time, was visiting her mother’s parents, the Ducasses. This photograph was taken a few weeks before. Lili describes it as one of her best and most enduring memories of her mother. Ironically, this picture is first seen in the Mirror Universe. Lili remembers the events leading up to the fire in her dreams, in the E2 stories, and then her subconscious supplies additional, unseen information, such as her father, Peter, shoving her mother to the floor and laying on top of her, one last act of protection.

Initially afraid of fire, her maternal grandmother, Lilienne, makes her cook. Lili explains to Malcolm, in Together, that she was a difficult teenager, getting into minor trouble such as joyriding. She loses her virginity to her High School boyfriend, Paul Mayer – that act is also recalled in a dream. She is close to leading a dull life when she gets a chance to cook for the head of the Mars Culinary Institute. She makes lobster en croute, which is a kind of strained bisque in puff pastry. On the strength of that dish, she is admitted to the MCI and graduates. Her first job out of school is at the Tethys Tavern, where she not only cooks, but also tends bar on occasion.

Voracious

Eventually, Lili becomes skilled enough, and is in enough demand, that she opens her own restaurant, Voracious, in San Mateo. The restaurant is described in Reversal (again, this is a memory seen through the prism of dreaming) and Voracious, where the NX-01‘s Chef, William Slocum, goes to dinner. He enjoys her Harvest Salad so much that he talks to her about joining up. The Xindi war is raging, and Lili remembers the attack. The city is still in aftershock mode. Slocum brings in Archer (I have not written that part yet) and Lili sells Voracious and comes aboard the NX-01. Her first day is chronicled in Harvest. She has been hired to act as sous-chef, pastry chef and saucier. Her duties include making desserts and birthday cakes, such as is shown in Protocols, plus she cleans up quite a bit. It isn’t until the E2 stories that she gets any help.

Relationships

Depending upon the story or the series, Lili experiences deep and abiding love, in a way that most of us can only dream of. While she has had boyfriends and lovers, at least twelve before the start of Reversal, she doesn’t really begin to have love until then.

Doug Beckett

Lili meets Doug as a part of shared dreaming with the Mirror Universe, as is shown in Reversal. Her relationship with Doug is earthy and very physical, but she essentially tames him. When it comes time to exchange I love yous, they are both indirect. He tells her, “It would be really stupid if we were to fall in love.” And she replies, “It’s too late.”

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
Lili pregnant

With Doug, her life settles into a domestic routine quickly. In A Kind of Blue, she finds out she’s pregnant, and they quickly wed. In Pacing, and then The Gift, she receives a truly meaningful gift from Doug, meant to sustain her for their life together. In Local Flavor and Friday Visit, their relationships with friends are shown.

In Together, their relationship is challenged, and it finally comes to an understanding in Temper and then in Fortune. Doug and Lili have two children, Jeremiah Logan (known as Joss) and Marie Patrice (often called Empy).

Doug’s death is outlined in Equinox.

Malcolm Reed

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
Lili in blue

With Malcolm, Lili is different. Their relationship is somewhat freer, but that’s at least partly because, not until much later in life, they don’t live together. Their meeting in Harvest is meant to be a foreshadowing of things to come, as they shake hands for too long, he looks her squarely in the eye and she drops a teacup. Because they are not together (Malcolm is her other fellow in her open marriage with Doug; Melissa Madden is Doug’s side girl in that same arrangement), there are a lot of good-byes and hellos. The homecoming in Temper is meant to be particularly sweet, and their time together at a hotel for a few days after that is meant to almost feel like a honeymoon, as is a shared dream during Fortune. With Malcolm, who is also a factor in the E2 stories, she can trade intellectual quips and insights. They read and talk about Jane Eyre. They play Scrabble and chess together. There is more highbrow business going on than with Doug, who often has trouble expressing himself.

Jay Hayes

Jay is only a factor in the E2 stories, but the events of Harvest, Penicillin and Demotion foreshadow some of that.

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

In Harvest, she notices Jay’s eyes when they are introduced, and he tells her that he likes blueberries when she asks about a favorite. In Penicillin, he is coughing and so she makes him (and the rest of the crew) a little Jewish Penicillin, chicken soup with matzoh balls. In Demotion, Hayes disciplines Daniel Chang in front of Lili and her roommate, Jennifer Crossman. He looks and nods at them but doesn’t address them, a prelude to the E2 stories.

In the E2 stories, Jay and Lili circle each other warily (she also circles Malcolm) and do not get together for a few years. He needs to get over Susan Cheshire, she needs to see him as a potential mate. Things are good between them. He is a bit better at expressing himself than Doug, and develops a meaningful pet name for her – Sparrow. In Equinox, after his death, he accidentally refers to her that way, which alarms her. This is because, in Equinox, she doesn’t know about the first iteration in the E2 stories. She only knows about the second E2 iteration.

José Torres

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
E2 second iteration Lili

In Together, Lili reveals to Malcolm that, when they met an NX-01 manned by their descendants, she learned that she had married José Torres. Malcolm reveals that he had not had anyone. His revelation is canon, so this, the second E2 iteration, is the one currently being written so as to dovetail with Star Trek: Enterprise canon.

As an Engineering crewman, José is far from being a romantic guy, which is what Lili craves. But he’s practical, and he cares for her a great deal. Her feelings about him are a lot more mixed, and there is less of the deep and abiding love as is seen with the others. Lili is settling, and she and the reader know it, but there is no one else.

Ian Reed

Ian is Malcolm’s Mirror Universe counterpart.

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

They never actually meet in life. But, as he explains in a dream in Equinox, counterpart to counterpart, he cannot help but be taken by her. In the third of the E2 stories, he meets her on the last night of her life, in a dream, and they dance. And in the fourth, Ian reveals that he has been tasked with guiding her and keeping her company, comforting her in her darkest hours.

She Who Almost Didn’t Breed in Time

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
Confident Lili

This is not only the name of the Xindi Insectoid that Lili kills during an episode of Fortune and feels the aftermath of in The Mess. This is also, in a way, what Lili herself could be called. But she has a total of (as of the time of this writing) seven children, depending upon which stories and series you read.

Joss Beckett and Joss Reed-Hayes

These sons are meant to be nearly identical, with Beckett as the son of the Mirror Universe husband and Reed-Hayes the son of the Prime Universe E2 first iteration husband. Joss is the one she depends upon to keep things together.

Marie Patrice Beckett and Madeline Reed-Hayes

Much like the two versions of Joss, these daughters are, respectively, children of the Mirror or the Prime Universe. However, their personalities diverge more. Marie Patrice is a bit of a materialistic person whereas Madeline grows up to become a Tactical Officer.

Declan Reed and Pamela Reed-Hayes

Both the children of Malcolm Reed, they are in the Prime Universe timeline and the E2 first iteration timeline, respectively. These children diverge the most. Declan is one of my visual artist characters whereas Pamela becomes a doctor, much like Pamela Hudson, who she is meant to evoke but not be named after, as the E2 denizens could not possibly have known about Dr. Hudson.

Maria Elena Torres

As Lili’s only child during the E2 second iteration, Maria Elena (named for Marie Helêne) is a bit of a wild card. As of the writing of this post, I have not yet determined how I want her to be. But the second iteration is meant to be more somber. Maria Elena will be one of the  few bright spots in that version of Lili’s life.

Dreams

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
Dreamy Lili

Lili is more defined by her subconscious than any of my characters, even the Calafans. When I first wrote her, that first moment, she is in the middle of a dream, and it turns out to be a shared dream with Doug, in Reversal. Her ability to share dreams is enhanced by being in Calafan space and, eventually, she gets dream amplifier alloy to put on her person, in the form of her wedding ring from Doug (A Kind of Blue) and the key charm from Malcolm (Temper). In addition, the Calafans paint her with calloo-like tattoos made from the same material, callidium (Reversal). She is a dream collector and a dream projector in a lot of ways. She interacts in her dreams and utterly believes them.

In the E2 stories, she has no such amplifications. But Ian explains to her that she has some psionic abilities. She’s just not able to really focus them well. Hence, when he is with her in her dreams, she can hear him, and can feel him to hold her while they dance, but she generally can’t see him.

Elements

The main characters in In Between Days, except for Pamela Hudson, are all related to some sort of ancient element. Doug is air, Malcolm is water, Melissa is the earth, and Leonora is communication. Lili, because of how her parents died, and because of her skills at cooking, is fire. Doug and Malcolm both refer to her, at various times, as “the white-hot flame”. Jay even mentions that, while on his deathbed.

Theme Music

In Reversal, Lili begins with Roy Orbison’s Sweet Dreams Baby and then segues into Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes with Doug. Her next music is in Together, starting with O Pato by Emilie-Claire Barlow, to showcase her love for her family – the duck (Joss), the goose (Doug) and the swan (her). Then she is represented by Crowded House’s Something So Strong and then, with Malcolm, Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) by A Flock of Seagulls. That story is continued with her and Doug’s Joe Jackson’s Breaking Us In Two but is ended on a much more positive note with her, Malcolm and Doug’s The Cure’s Love Song. In Temper, she’s represented by Blind Melon’s Tones of Home. In Fortune, she is represented by Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams and then all of them are covered by Sister Hazel’s All For You.

Mirror Universe

The Mirror Lili (called Charlotte) is at home during the house fire at the O’Day home on June 12th, 2118. She and her younger brother, Declan, die along with their parents. Jay does refer to seeing her in the afterlife during a dream in Equinox, and he reports that one of the pleasant things about heaven is that you can be any age you like, even ones you never attained in life. It’s a comfort to the grieving Lili (she has just lost Doug) to know that her counterpart can be old enough for real love, and can experience it. Given that Ian reveals that the counterparts are also taken with each other, he could very well be a part of the love that Charlotte might be finally experiencing.

Quote

“I figured I didn’t deserve to have survived, like I wasn’t good enough and I hadn’t done anything to be allowed to be the sole repository of my family’s memories and their love and their talents and everything else. I got into trouble and I didn’t face it much. I know now what a difficult child I must have been. It wasn’t until I became a master of fire that I began to process it. I began to have a handle on what had destroyed my family, and I could turn it to something that was almost good. And I began to slowly realize that my hopelessly old-fashioned, ancient and unhip grandparents were doing the very best they could for me, and that I should try and, and make it so that things wouldn’t be so hard for them.” 

Upshot

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
Lili Upshot

I love this character. I cannot describe quite how much I do. But that’s to be expected, as so much of me is in her. Of course I know where the lines are drawn. I have no children; I have a conventional marriage. I am not a professional chef; my parents (as of the writing of this post) are alive and well. But there is something about Lili – from her vulnerability to her superficial fretting about her less than perfect stomach to her sass to her whacking the hell out of She Who Almost Didn’t Breed In Time to how she sings to Joss to how she brings Jay out of his shell and gets Malcolm to loosen up and feel that even he can cry sometimes – all of this, and more, make her, to me, an utterly irresistible character who I cannot stop writing about. I am all characters, and all characters are me, but Lili hits the most marks.

Spotlight on an Original Food – Vegetable Paste Tube Food

Spotlight on an Original Food – Vegetable Paste Tube Food

Background

In Reversal, I establish that the food in the Mirror Universe is, for the most part, pretty lousy. Doug even comments on it, and notes that he and his men will often go hunting if game animals are available. It almost doesn’t matter what they taste like; they are still assumed to be far better than normal fare.

By the time of the alternate timeline recounted in Temper, the food on the ISS Defiant is little better than slop. And in the history as described by Doug in Fortune, there is a rationing system. Cards with various letters have differing values. But the cards only refer to the number of times per week that a crew member is promised (this promise is often broken) a day with at least one meal containing meat. The cards say nothing about vegetables.

Necessity

Because fruits and vegetables are necessary for good health and for a fit fighting force, the  nutrients need to, somehow, be supplied. Enter the paste tubes.

Spotlight on an Original Food – Vegetable Paste Tube Food
Vegetable paste tube

As should be obvious, these are meant to look and feel like toothpaste tubes. There is no information on whether the contents are any color other than white.

The diner should not be tempted by them at all, and they probably don’t have much of a taste, either. Lili gets them to taste like something by squeezing out their innards and frying the mess with salt and linfep fat or some other fat in order to make a somewhat squishy version of potato chips, meant to be consumed with synthbeer.

Upshot

As another reminder of the difference between the Mirror side of the pond and ours, I think the tubes succeed pretty well. A society that values women, or cooking or taste or agriculture would not stand for them. But in the Mirror Universe, they don’t care, so Vitamin C, fiber and other nutrients are only supplied in this manner.

Portrait of a Character – Jay Douglas Hayes

Portrait of a Character – Jay Douglas Hayes

Many – although not all – roads lead to Jay Hayes.

Origins

Jay Hayes
Jay Hayes

This character is, of course, Star Trek: Enterprise canon. He is a Major in the MACOs and loses his life during the ENT Countdown episode.

In canon, he only has a first initial, and not even a middle initial. I have gone with Jay (a suggestion by the actor who played him) and Douglas in order to dovetail with Doug Beckett.

The main origination point for me was that I enjoyed the character very much, and wish he had been shown more. A rather earthy dream about him was the basis and initial kernel of an idea for Reversal, a story where he is referred to, and is seen in this photograph. However, by the time of Reversal (2157), Jay is already long dead.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Jay Douglas Hayes
Jay Hayes (Steven Culp)

As in canon, Jay is portrayed by veteran actor Steven Culp. Culp has said about the character that he is essentially a David Mamet character, in that he is more action than talk much of the time. In canon, he rarely smiles. In fact, I think one of the few times he even comes close to smiling is in this image.

Personality

Portrait of a Character – Jay Douglas Hayes
Jay and Malcolm (Steven Culp with Dominic Keating)

All business, Jay is surprised and genuinely hurt that Malcolm Reed would think that he was attempting to undermine the Tactical Officer’s authority. For Jay, it’s about getting the job done. However, he does so with few niceties. For Malcolm, this is unacceptable, and there is a need for communications and for protocols to be followed. In canon, Jay eventually admits that blindly following the chain of command isn’t as easy as it may seem, nor is it always the right thing to do. For him, the excuse of “I was only following orders” could have rung true, until that moment.

In the E2 stories I am currently writing, Jay is in a state of melancholy, but so are many of the other people, as clinical depression runs rampant, at least at the beginning of those stories. For Jay, it takes the form of regrets about an old relationship with a woman he identifies as his most important ex-girlfriend, Susan Cheshire, and he even writes her a letter that he knows she will never read. But Jay is also unexpectedly kind, such as when he carves a walking stick for an injured crewman but doesn’t make it public knowledge.

His conflict with Malcolm is shown in any number of stories. In Harvest and in Protocols, which both take place during the Xindi war, he and Malcolm bicker a bit. It’s pretty much just about their ideas about dealing with the Xindi threat. It isn’t until the E2 stories that their arguments become about something else entirely, their rivalry over a woman.

Relationships

In canon, he has no known relationships. I follow on that and, in Together, when Lili and Doug meet with his sister, the attorney Laura Hayes, she confides that he had no one, not even a girlfriend and was “not the marrying kind”.

In my fanfiction, he has three important earlier relationships which eventually lead up to his great love, as is depicted in the E2 stories. The first of these is with Darareaksmey Preap, described as a Cambodian bar girl that he knew when he was young and in Basic Training, near Phnom Penh. Much like Doug, he lies to Darareaksmey and tells her he loves her, and buys her gifts, in order to be able to lose his virginity to her.

The second is Christine Chalmers, possibly known during an assignment. He considers telling her that he loves her until he learns that she’s been cheating on him. The third is the aforementioned Susan Cheshire, who tells him she loves him nearly constantly. But he can’t bring himself to say it in return, and he doesn’t quite understand why until later.

In the E2 stories, he learns to let go of Susan’s memory and embrace the woman who will be his great love, the woman he calls Sparrow. This is evoked in Equinox as well when, even after his death, he communicates with her and accidentally calls her Sparrow.

Theme Music

Jay doesn’t have official theme music, but the BeatlesBlue Jay Way works rather nicely.

Mirror Universe

Jay’s Mirror Universe counterpart is Doug Beckett. Any discussion of Jay/Doug in the Mirror can be found in that post.

Quote

“I was a big kid. I was probably gonna be fat if I didn’t do something. I was an ox, a lummox, my dad would call me. My father, he ordered me to ride my bike every day…. He was military, too. And, well, so I did it. ‘Cause you didn’t argue with Jeremiah Hayes. So I used to ride around the reservoir area. It was nice, and there were birds. They would all chatter away, like they were having arguments or telling each other the news or something like that…. Anyway, it was a good place to go, and it was a bit cooler than most places, so I went every day. And then one day, I saw the Ganymede Police there. They had a skiff boat and there were divers. And they were, well … they were dredging for a body.”

Upshot

Beyond being, perhaps, a bit of a jarhead, Jay has a heart and a soul. You just need to be quiet and listen for them.

Review – Protocols

ReviewProtocols 

Protocols was written in response to a prompt about arts and crafts, and covers a small missing scene from the third season of ENT. Namely, it’s the celebration of Captain

Review – Protocols
Scott Bakula

Archer‘s birthday. As a result, it was meant to be a bit of a contrast to the ENT canon Silent Enemy episode, wherein the executive staff celebrates Malcolm Reed‘s birthday. Because the Xindi war is raging, I wanted it to be different.

Preparations

For Lili to ply her trade as a combination sous-chef, pastry chef and saucier, she needs to be able to expertly handle a pastry bag and tip. Although art runs in her family (in Fortune, she reveals that her mother was a potter), Lili isn’t meant to be a fine artist. Therefore, she traces the image of a shuttle, and of Captain Archer, onto the top of the cake by projecting an image with her PADD and then following along with icing.

Mistake

Review – Protocols

Lili makes one big error by writing out Happy Birthday, Jonathan! instead of Happy Birthday, Captain Archer! Chef Slocum points this out to her, but it’s too late to fix it. Slocum tells her that Archer has been in a foul mood ever since the Loque’eque virus (from the canon Star Trek: Enterprise episode Extinction). A little apprehensive, she serves the birthday dinner, and then the dessert, which is a strawberry shortcake. She has chosen strawberry because, unlike in Silent Enemy, she has been taking note of the food preferences of the executive staff. If strawberry isn’t Jonathan Archer‘s favorite, it’s probably close enough. In Local Flavor, Travis comments that he’s going to miss her strawberry shortcake.

Redemption

After the cake is cut and the dinner is over, the captain approaches her. Lili immediately apologizes for being overly familiar and not following proper protocols. But the captain sees things differently, and urges her to make the same cake, with the same greeting on it, the following year, assuming they make it out of the Xindi war alive.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I like how the story flowed, from Lili’s task to Will Slocum scolding her, to the dinner (which includes referencing to the canon conflict between Malcolm Reed and Jay Hayes) to the short post-dinner conversation. I’m very happy with how this ficlet turned out.


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Portrait of a Character – Blair Claymore

Portrait of a Character – Blair Claymore

Origins

Blair began as a roommate/friend for Pamela Hudson. She was intended to also be an object of desire, but to be the “good girl” in contrast to Pamela’s “bad girl” in Intolerance. Her ambition is to be an obstetrician, in further contrast to Pamela’s stated ambition to become a plastic surgeon. Furthermore, her relationship with Will Owen was meant to be almost a model of love and propriety – but there was something under the surface that wasn’t quite so proper.

Portrayal

I always liked Holly Marie Combs on Charmed,
and so she was, to me, a natural for Blair. Blair is described as being a brunette with a few freckles, a nice figure and a big smile. She’s a typical California girl in looks and mannerisms, but I didn’t want her to be Malibu Barbie.

Portrait of a Character – Blair Claymore
Blair Claymore

Personality

Beautiful and smart, Blair is also kind and caring. She’s the person who worries about Pamela. She’s the one who would have accepted Will despite his issues (she doesn’t get a chance to, though).

Relationships

In Intolerance, she flirts a bit with the guys and a few of them – namely Travis, Chip Masterson and probably also Aidan – make various plays for her. But they’re all unsuccessful, as she only has eyes for Will Owen. Pamela reveals that that relationship has been a model of waiting and planning. Will and Blair have been together for about a year before taking the plunge and having sex, and they do so under the auspices of “I love you”s. It seems right. They seem destined to wed.

But things go differently and, in Together, Pamela tells Malcolm that Blair is engaged to someone else (as of this writing, his name has not been revealed).

By the time of Fortune, Blair still has her maiden name, but that might be preference rather than an indication of a continuing single marital status. She has become a Chief Medical Officer on a starship, just like her and Pamela’s classmate, An Nguyen. By the time of Flight of the Bluebird and Equinox, she is still at her post. In Bluebird, it slips out that she’s married. I haven’t decided whether that’s a marriage to the person Pamela refers to in Together.

Mirror Universe

The Mirror Blair’s life, like that of most of the denizens of the other side of the pond, is a lot harder than in the Prime Universe.

Portrait of a Character – Blair Claymore
MU Blair

She’s seen in Temper, in the first alternate timeline, and has been brought in as one of José Torres‘s playthings, along with Pamela and Karin Bernstein. Little more than a high-priced hooker, the Mirror Blair is probably not much more than a minor Science Department lackey and is certainly no doctor. Toward the end of that story, she reveals that Doctor Morgan has been treating her for bruising although, whether it’s due to José or Aidan or any of the other possible men in the Mirror Universe who wanted her, the specifics remain a mystery as of this writing.

Quote

“I never have to see you again, and I never have to talk to you.”

Upshot

This nice girl eventually gets the career she wants and, presumably, the rest of a perfect life to go with it. As for the Mirror version, once the timeline is restored, all contact is lost, so who knows what really happens to her?

Inspiration – The Physical World

Inspiration – The Physical World

What do I mean by the physical world, and why should it be an inspiration for Star Trek fanfiction?

Observations

Almost every single day, I go for a walk around my neighborhood. This walk takes anywhere from twenty to ninety minutes, on average. I live in an urban area, but there are a lot of wooded areas. I see wildlife quite a bit of the time. My eyes are open, and I am often inspired by what I see.

Animals

Because aliens need to eat, they need food animals. In Reversal, I established that the Mirror Universe members of the Defiant‘s crew often go hunting, as the rations there are so bad. The idea is enlarged upon in Fortune. Hence they had to have something they could hunt. A hunt is even shown (although it’s in our universe) as the opening scene in Temper.

Inspiration – The Physical World

I already had elekai (a large flightless bird) and I already had perrazin (a blonde buffalo with fangs or tusks). But I wanted something smaller, a kind of quick and easy hunt. Plus the perrazin are omnivores. Therefore, they needed something that they could readily hunt. I was seeing bunny rabbits on my walks. Therefore, I hit upon the idea of linfep.

Plants

The idea of a plant that would change its flavor, due to its degree of ripeness, isn’t exactly original. After all, underripe fruits taste differently (usually, they are more sour) versus ripened ones, and overripe ones can be cloying or even nauseating. Olowa, however, was written to much more radically change flavor. A part of that was simply to be able to use the idea for double and triple duty. A fruit that tastes like pears can become preserves. When it tastes like peanuts, it can be mashed into a reasonable facsimile of peanut butter. And when it tastes spicy, it can be used in Mexican or Thai cooking.

Another plant, which would grow up fast, was based in part on bamboo  (and tofflin is meant to look a bit like bamboo). However, the idea that a portion of the plant is poisonous was taken straight from the reality of

Inspiration – The Physical World

rhubarb, which has poisonous leaves (just like tofflin).

Sentient Species

The Daranaeans proved to be great fun to write, as I got the idea from the marsupial wolf. There was a while there where I just had a scrap of paper, saying smart kangaroos on it, and nothing else.

Scenery and Visuals

Inspiration – The Physical World

Strange other things have proven inspiring. The name plate on a Toyota Yaris inspired the idea of the surname Yarin, as in Doctor Boris Yarin. A sign for Rebecca’s Cafe ‘n Catering brought forth a name for the E2 stories – Scafen (he’s a Xindi).

Continued Inspiration

What I have found, as I go on in life, is that there’s something out there, almost every day, that can be inspiring. You just have to look, be open to it and – probably most importantly – write it down.

Portrait of a Character – Aidan MacKenzie

Portrait of a Character – Aidan MacKenzie

Origins

Aidan’s origin was to be a not necessarily perfectly bright Tactical guy. He was meant to be the best-looking man on the NX-01. He was meant to be your classic tall, dark and handsome guy. On the way, things changed a bit.

After Reversal, Aidan was, at least in the Mirror Universe, fairly well doomed. But I wanted to redeem him, because I thought the character could have a chance. As for our side of the pond, Aidan was just okay. He was Malcolm Reed‘s essential right-hand man and night shift fill-in, but he didn’t seem to have too much fire – particularly for a Tactical man.

Portrayal

What brought a lot of it together for me was the portrayal. I decided on someone who is tall and dark, but not necessarily what we would, conventionally, think of as handsome. After all, perhaps tastes have changed in the future. This was a way to set out the premise.

Portrait of a Character – Aidan MacKenzie
Vinny Del Negro

Enter Vinny Del Negro. Del Negro is a former NBA player (hence he’s tall, at 6’4″) but was never really stellar, except in free throw shooting. He’s currently a coach in the NBA. He’s generally not seen as the world’s greatest coach, either. To me, he fit the bill as a guy who might have a lot of potential and there are two ways to play that – stunning success or abject failure. Both themes play out in the stories.

Personality

Aidan is supremely confident and intelligent. He’s got the looks, he’s got the job and he’s got the ladies. But – there’s always something more to strive for.

In Together, he goes after all three bridesmaids and is turned down by all of them, undoubtedly due to being too arrogant and cocky.

However, he’s loyal and smart, and eventually gets his due. Malcolm even recommends him for a captaincy, in Equinox. This is the capstone of a career path that moves him from an Ensign in Reversal and Together, then to a Lieutenant and even Acting Tactical Officer in Fortune and, finally, to a Commander in Flight of the Bluebird before Malcolm Reed‘s generous recommendation.

Relationships

In Reversal, it’s established that he likes Jenny Crossman. This is furthered as he goes on a somewhat disastrous date with Lili when he brings along Brian Delacroix to act as a wingman so that he can go for it with Jennifer. However, Jenny’s got other plans.

In Together, he’s still not settled but, by Fortune, he ends up with Susan Cheshire.

The E2 stories are different and he ends up marrying Jennifer in both kick backs in time.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Aidan MacKenzie
MU Aidan

The Mirror Aidan has a much tougher life. In Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions, he vies with Doug and Chip Masterson for the Tactical Officer role left vacant at the Mirror Malcolm’s (Ian’s) death.

At the time of Reversal, the Mirror Universe Aidan has established himself as a ladies’ man. However, unlike Doug, he fails to resist Empress Hoshi, and so he is relegated to becoming babysitter for her growing brood of children (and fathers her second son, Kira). This is Aidan’s disgrace.

By the time of  First Born and Temper, Aidan’s humiliation is complete, and he is used to accepting abusive orders, all in the name of keeping the peace and also keeping himself out of harm’s way. But he’s also grown as a person, and is the best parent on the ISS Defiant, by far.

He gets his real chance in Temper and again in He Stays a Stranger, when Rick Daniels gets to go to the Mirror, which (according to the events that unfold in First Born) is normally not allowed, as the timeline has been damaged. Aidan and Susan (who is now his wife) are given the chance to finally get out. They take it, and end up on Lafa II.

Quote

“I would rather take care of the children.”

Upshot

For a character who was supposed to be a lummox, almost a redshirt to be toyed with by Empress Hoshi and, on our side, possibly expendable, Aidan grew into a more dynamic character the more I wrote about him. In the end, on both sides of a proverbial pond, he develops some very real values.