Progress Report – September 2012

Progress Report – September 2012

September 2012 was busy.

Posted Works

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | September 2012

The month was extremely productive.

On Ad Astra, I added the following In Between Days stories to context – Ceremonial; Shell Shock; The Best Things Come in Pairs; To Wish, To Want, To Desire and Tumult.

For the HG Wells collection, I added the following stories to context – A Long, Long Time Ago; Ohio, Fortune and Temper. I also added The Point is Probably Moot. For the Transitions challenge, I wrote the Mirror Universe story, Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses. In order to add context to the many Mirror Universe stories, I also created a cover and a series for them, called Hall of Mirrors. I added Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions, First Born, Reversal, Coveted Commodity, Temper, Fortune and The Point is Probably Moot to that particular context. I also created an actual contextual piece, called Hall of Mirrors and added Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses.

On Fanfiction.net, I added Voracious and its direct sequel, Harvest. I also added Protocols, which is another Lili-centric prequel and The Mess, which also features Jay. I also added the extreme prequel story, A Single Step.

On Star Trek Logs, because they were celebrating the Mirror Universe there, I added A Lesson, which is an HG Wells story featuring Eleanor Daniels, and The High Cost of Dissidence.

WIP Corner

The E2 stories continued to challenge and perplex. So I am working on the fourth book and sometimes it’s not so easy.

Plus I also began working on a new Interphases story starring Commander Tucker. I don’t write him too much so I am learning how to get into that character’s head. This story also briefly brings back HG Wells characters Milena and Noemy Chelenka and their neighbor, Mrs. Klinghofer.

Prep Work

I am beginning to get more than just an inkling of how I want to work on more Interphases stories, as I have been brainstorming quite a bit regarding ways that interphases can actually happen. This has been helpful in terms of getting ideas for more stories in that genre as I am looking to cover not only the entire main canon crew of Enterprise but to potentially branch out into other series (as in Crackerjack).

I also created an HTML version of Shake Your Body, in anticipation of spinning it out in October.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

I started off the month by turning 50! All of my celebratory stuff was early, so I was past that and well into production afterwards. The Adult Trek Anthology continues to be a lot of work, but very rewarding. A lot of it is finished or close to being finished, but cover art will likely prove to be a lot more time-consuming. Plus I am still looking for work, and am doing SEO work for a friend.

Portrait of a Character – Cyril Morgan

Portrait of a Character – Cyril  Morgan

Origins

Originally, I was looking for an evil Mirror Universe doctor, to be Phlox‘s successor. But then I decided to give the man a Prime Universe counterpart, and he got, to me, even more interesting, as the dichotomy grew between the two versions.

Portrayal

Doctor Morgan
Doctor Morgan

I see and hear Michael Caine for this role. I like his gravitas, his gentle-sounding voice and the fact that he can also, at times, seem to be utterly evil. Morgan in our universe is kindly, highly skilled, meticulous, thoughtful  and somewhat grandfatherly.

He is far different in the mirror.

Personality

A healer, Cyril Morgan brings intelligence but also shrewdness. In our universe, he is a retired orthopedic surgeon (Fortune). But he comes out of retirement and is brought in as a fill-in doctor on Jonathan Archer‘s second ship, the USS Zefram Cochrane, as Phlox has returned to Denobula (We Meet Again). He retires again, afterwards, and Blair Claymore becomes the CMO on the USS Bluebird (Fortune).

In an alternate timeline, he is brought out of retirement a lot longer, and serves as Malcolm‘s CMO, again on the Bluebird, but in a lost cause (Temper).

Relationships

I haven’t shown any romantic relationships for him yet, but he’s Pamela Hudson‘s uncle, and is Cindy Morgan’s grandfather. Hence he at least has one son.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Cyril  Morgan
Mirror Cyril Morgan

The Mirror Doctor Morgan fulfills the promise of the Mirror Phlox. Ruthless and ambitious, he has no qualms about getting rid of anyone in his way.

In Coveted Commodity, he gives Travis a choice, as the Empress Hoshi Sato is vulnerable. Will Travis let him kill (or at least not resuscitate) Hoshi on the operating table?

And in Reversal (and in other stories), it’s rumored that he was the one to kill Ian Reed, although that’s somewhat unclear (it’s possible that it was Phlox. It is cleared up in Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses). This is part of the chain of events that makes Doug Hayes‘s rise possible.

In Temper, he ends up caring for Blair, and the implication is that it might be for a reason other than medical treatment.

Quote

This is my granddaughter, Cindy Morgan. And this is her friend, Jia Sulu. Oh, and this is Fenway.”

Upshot

For a guy who started out as a vile denizen of the Mirror Universe, he got a bit of a soul as I went along. The kindly old grandfather here is a ruthless killer over there.

Review – Broken Seal

Broken Seal Background

Broken Seal was written in response to a monthly challenge about silence. It takes place in the In Between Days time period and the Prime Universe, after Together and before The Cure is Worse than the Disease.

Premise

So I knew that my competition would be mainly writing sad stories, as silence tends to lead one in that direction. Hence I decided to zig instead of zag, and went for a comedy.

The Seventh Seal
The Seventh Seal

It’s Movie Night, and Chip Masterson has been touting The Seventh Seal  all week. It’s going to be a celebration of highbrow culture. He’s excited as he’s the biggest film buff on the ship. He’s going to have a discussion and everything.

Meanwhile, Tripp Tucker is trying to reconcile with T’Pol. So he’s using the occasion of the film as a means to get back into her good graces. Hence he figures that an intellectual date will really appeal to her.

Malcolm is excited about the film as he wants to watch it and compare notes with his girl afterwards. But she is at home, so this is a kind of date for them as well, and she assures him that she will dress up and everything.

It All Goes Haywire

However, all is not right, for Hoshi Sato has been hit with a tiny spatial anomaly. And so she makes plans to derail the film’s showing. She enlists Travis‘s help, and she splices a very different film onto The Seventh Seal. And this changes its ending dramatically.

Bambi Woods - not the star of The Seventh Seal
Bambi Woods – not the star of The Seventh Seal

But the projectionist, Aidan MacKenzie, doesn’t suspect a thing. So he just loads the film and then more or less dozes off, bored by the Bergman film. And the MACOs are watching; Jonathan Archer is watching; Jenny from Engineering is watching, and suddenly the film’s plot is changed considerably. Jonathan calls off the evening and yells for Masterson and MacKenzie to join him in his Ready Room. And they are in big, big trouble.

Hence Malcolm confirms with his girl – this isn’t the ending of The Seventh Seal at all.

So – whodunit? Who messed up the film? Will Hoshi confess? Stay tuned.

Story Postings

Rating

While the story is rated K, it does refer to an NC-17-rated film.

Upshot

While I like the comedy aspects of it, I think I could have amped it up even more. Hence I think Chip’s pain and fear that he’d lose his Ensign’s rank should have been played up more.

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Portrait of a Character – Julie McKenzie

Portrait of a Character – Julie McKenzie

There were plenty of tough women on Star Trek: Enterprise.

Origins

This Star Trek: Enterprise canon character is a MACO, seen in the third season only. She was mentioned in the canon E2 episode as having become Travis Mayweather‘s wife. Major Jay Hayes also mentioned her on his deathbed, and asked that she be placed in charge of the MACOs. She held a Corporal‘s rank. She only has a first initial in canon; I have named her Julie.

Portrayal

As in the show, she is played by actress Julia Rose.

Personality

Portrait of a Character – Julie McKenzie
Julie McKenzie (Julia Rose)

There was virtually nothing on her in canon, so I have had to fill in the blanks. She’s mainly enthusiastic about the mission. In the E2 stories I am writing, she and Travis begin their romance with fun, although it quickly turns serious. While she is an eager mother, she is also career-driven and goes back to working full-time in the MACOs after their son, Paul, is born.

In Shell Shock, she is expecting a promotion and is disappointed, but rises to the occasion when asked to help out. The possibility of conflict with Hayes’s replacement, Strong Bear Dawson, is deflected when she realizes that her fellow crew members need her.

Relationships

The only relationship I have for her is with Travis. With Travis, things are fun but also playfully affectionate. They enjoy each other’s company a great deal.

Mirror Universe

So far, I have not written a Mirror Universe counterpart for her.

Quote

“Our people are pouring off the ship, and they’re scattering. They want to see their families while we’re here, that sort of thing. I can’t make anyone – not even my MACOs – stay in San Francisco without pulling rank. Some of them are probably gone already and can only be brought back by communicator.”

Upshot

A mostly quiet character, Julie probably needs more depth than I have given her so far.

Recurrent Themes – Engineers

Recurrent Themes – Engineers

Background

While watching Star Trek: Enterprise (and The Original Series and the other series, but particularly Enterprise), I was struck by how together and cute and all of that Tripp Tucker is.

And that is just not my experience of most engineers.

This is not an insult and I hope it is not taken that way. Rather, most of the engineers I have known have been shy and withdrawn people, far more comfortable with engines, wrenches, etc. than people. Scotty is much more of the epitome of a true engineer to me, and Geordi is pretty close as well. But Tucker, to my mind, is a bit too well-socialized, as is Miles O’Brien.

Appearances

Recurrent Themes – Engineers
NX-01 Main Engineering

Of course Tucker is canon so he’s not totally gone from my writings. But I do try to write him with angst (Together, Temper, and Fortune) or at least a feeling that he’d rather look at an engine than talk or think about something more esoteric, like politics (Intolerance).

As for Geordi and Scotty, I try to give them different degrees of depth. Both of them have gotten romances or at least the promise of romance in my fiction. In Crackerjack, Geordi finds he’s falling for Rosemary Parker, but because of the time difference, it can never be. Scotty has somewhat better luck with M’Ress in Milk. As for Miles, he’s a family man. But he’s got a certain other talent, as demonstrated in You Make Me Want to Scream.

Other engineers and engineering students, because they are wholly created by me, fare somewhat differently.

Judy Kelly and Michael Rostov

These canon characters marry in my E2 stories.

Bron

This Gorn character reveals he is an engineering student in Truth. He describes a good career ahead of him as a civil engineer, where he can provide for Sophra and, hopefully, win over her parents.

Levi Cavendish

This odd genius is misunderstand by nearly everyone but Otra D’Angelo.

Freela

In Wider Than the Sargasso Sea, this Klingon character is disappointed that a Breen is working in an engineering office where she had hoped to get an internship, and shows some prejudice when she tells Gabrielle Nolan that she has to cross that firm off her list if a Breen is working there. Like Bron, she is studying civil engineering, but she’s further along in her studies than he is.

Josh Rosen

This crewman only works in engineering in our universe (The Light) and is revealed to be in Security in the Mirror Universe in Temper. It’s unclear what his actual duties are.

José Torres

This character is an engineer in only our universe but not the mirror (Reversal), where he’s a security crewman. In our universe, he starts off as third in Engineering, behind Tucker and Crossman. A lot of his work involves monitoring the warp containment field, plus he often runs the transporter. In the E2 stories, he does all sorts of odd tasks, including building an ultrasound machine.

Jennifer Crossman

In both universes, Jennifer starts out as the secondary in engineering, right behind Tucker. On the Defiant, it’s likely that she worked the night shift at least part of the time, which may have been how she at least initially hooked up with Aidan MacKenzie.

Frank Ramirez

As a corollary to the characters who are only engineers in our universe, Frank is only an engineer in the mirror (here, he’s a planetary geologist). Eventually, in The Point is Probably Moot, he rises to the level of First Officer of the Defiant, when Andrew Miller commits suicide (Escape).

Kevin O’Connor

Kevin is the Chief Engineer for the Temporal Integrity Commission (Temper, The Point, etc.). He’s a lumbering beast of a man and is part-Gorn, tipping the scales at nearly a quarter of a metric ton.

Deirdre Katzman

Deirdre is Kevin’s young protegée and enjoys old time travel fiction, so she names the time ships (HG Wells, Audrey Niffenegger, Jack Finney, etc.). See A Long, Long Time Ago.

Von

This Ferengi engineer works mostly on an older style ship called the Penar (The Point is Probably Moot).

Yilta

This Calafan engineer is Kevin O’Connor’s love interest and works on Calafan time ships like The Light of Lo.

Makan Sinthasomphone

This engineer works on temporal mechanics for Section 31 in a forerunner to the Temporal Integrity Commission.

Upshot

They keep it all together, and they keep it running like a top. Without engineers, there really couldn’t be any Star Trek at all.

Inspiration – Names

Background

I take names seriously, and, truth be told, that’s actually Star Trek canon. A lot of the named characters, particularly the ones who do not have English-style names, have meaningful appellations.

Nyota Uhura
Nyota Uhura

Take Hoshi Sato, for example. The first name means “star”. The surname means “at home”. Hence, she is “at home in the stars”.

A similar situation exists with Nyota Uhura. Nyota means “star” and Uhura means “freedom”. Are communications officers required to be named Star?

Canon to Fanfiction

For my characters, names have meanings that draw from heritage, repeat in order to show familial relationships, and have meanings unto themselves.

In Between Days

Doug Beckett is so named because Douglas means “dark stranger”, which is exactly what he is – a stranger from the Mirror Universe, first experienced in pitch darkness.

Lili O’Day‘s full name – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day – evokes several themes. Her first name means “free woman” and her middle name is of course a flower (and Malcolm refers to her, in the prime timeline, as Lili-Flower). Her surname sets up the contrast to Doug, for she is quite literally “of the day”.

Malcolm Reed (alternate timeline)
Malcolm Reed (alternate timeline)

Because the name Malcolm means “a devotee of Saint Columba“, and that is the patron saint of poets and bookbinders, I make Malcolm a gifted poet. The reed (which of course is the lower, non-flowering part of a plant), is evoked as he and Lili, in Together, talk about the flower and the reed, and she assures him that the flower is pretty and all, but the flower can’t live without the reed.

For Melissa Madden, in part it’s a shout-out to future canon character Martin Madden.

Melissa means “honey bee” and she is a rather earthy individual. As for Leonora Digiorno, Leonora means “light” (Malcolm incorrectly refers to her as the Lioness) and Digiorno is the same as O’Day, “of the day”. Her relationships are purely in the day, hence she is solely a daylight character.

Times of the HG Wells

The Wells characters were less name-driven but there are some highlights. Sheilagh and Darragh are both Irish-type spellings, meant to impart a somewhat exotic flavor. HD Avery is really Henry Desmond, with the middle name being a shout-out to Dominic Keating‘s first real role, in a British sitcom called Desmond’s. Carmen means “garden”, an offhanded joke as the character is a sophisticated urbanite. The characters Tom and Kevin hearken back to the In Between Days series and are meant to show a relationship to that earlier series.

Otra, the half-Witannen character, has a name meaning a small animal, like a mouse. I also used Glyph as the name of a Ferengi, as short nouns are canon for Ferengi names (e. g. Quark and Nog). Von is another Ferengi name, but I grabbed that one from baseball – Von Hayes (yet another shout-out to Steven Culp).

Interphases

For this series, character names have to evoke a time period properly. Rosemary Parker’s name fits in with her birth in the 1920s, whereas Jacob, Benjamin and Dorcas all evoke the 1700s. Jim, the son of Benjamin and Dorcas, is a shout-out to Mark Twain’s Jim character in Huckleberry Finn.

Emergence and Mixing it Up

For both of these series, since there are several aliens, names had to be made up. Skrol is meant to sound a bit like Slar, the only known named Gorn. Etrina, Tr’Dorna and Sophra are all made-up names, meant to sound feminine. Bron is intended to evoke a feeling of brawn.

For Daranaeans, female names end with vowels whereas as male names often (but not always) end with an -s. Prime Wife females, being considered superior, are given names with a soft th- sound in them, such as Thessa, Dratha and Kathalia. This is the th- sound in thistle, rather than in the. The sound, anywhere in the word, is meant to mean “smell”, with a positive connotation. Secondaries get somewhat pretty names, often with m- sounds, like Morza and Mistra, but sometimes not, like Cria and Inta (in all fairness, the younger Inta, a secondary, is named after a last caste female). Third caste females tend to get shorter names, like Darri and Fyra and Cama. The men’s names are all over the place, from Elemus and Arnis to Craethe and Trinning.

Calafans

Calafans love names and meanings so much that it’s a standard greeting to a new person – “what is your name, and what does it mean?” The first time Lili hears this, in Local Flavor, she is a bit appalled as it is a part of a come-on.

Men often get the -wev ending, which means “master of”, whereas women often get the yi- prefix, meaning “student of”. But the differences are not intended to be sexist. With no middle names and no last names, a lot hinges on a name, and they cannot be repeated. Therefore, names are given out by the government, and parents often petition for a name for their baby while the child is still in utero. Names are then released upon death. Names without either prefix include Treve (messenger) and Miva (clay).

Upshot

For me, the naming of characters is a deeply person act. Alien names are a great deal of fun to come up with, as I put together sounds I like or that seem to harmonize, and then attach meanings to them. Sometimes a character doesn’t really “click” until he or she has been named. Then, suddenly, it can all fall into place.

Recurrent Themes – Femmes Fatales

Recurrent Themes – Femmes Fatales

Femme fatales can really make a story take off.
Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Femmes Fatales

A lot of my Star Trek fanfiction writing contains recurrent themes, characters and situations. Here is an effort to put some of that together and make some sense of it all.

Background for Femmes Fatales

Femme fatales are a fairly classic archetype. It’s the bad girl, the sexy girl and, often, the dangerous one.

Appearances

Empress Hoshi Sato

The Empress is, of course, canon. But the second mirror universe Enterprise story ends with the beginning of her power grab. It doesn’t tell you whether she was successful and, if she was, what happened next.

Recurrent Themes – Femmes Fatales
Empress Hoshi

In Reversal, the Empress’s power is well-established and has been consolidated. Doug offhandedly tells Lili that the Empress took about a year or so to get it all together and, in the meantime, had a child as well. That child turns out to be Jun Daniels Sato.

But the Empress is dissatisfied (and sexually voracious). She is looking for younger siblings for Jun. She understands Machiavelli enough to know that she needs a multitude of potential successors in order to keep herself in power (and healthy) as long as possible. Plus she needs to keep producing heirs as long as possible for, if a faction prefers her youngest child, that faction might just wait until the youngest one’s age of majority before becoming a physical threat to her. It’s a chance, but she’s got to take it.

Pamela Hudson

The second femme fatale I wrote was Pamela.

Recurrent Themes – Femmes Fatales
Pamela Hudson

Pamela is as intelligent as Hoshi (if not more so) but, ultimately, she turns out to not be ruthless. Instead, her motivations are her own damaged past and her hopes for the future. For Pamela, finding love brings her full circle and gives her what she truly needs. She is able to hang up the femme fatale act and enjoy life.

Marisol Castillo

Marisol, on the other hand, is not motivated by anything positive whatsoever. As a much more classic femme fatale, Marisol is downright hazardous.

Recurrent Themes – Femmes Fatales
Marisol Castillo

She is an assassin and a blackmailer, and treats Borin Yarin badly enough that she pays the ultimate price for her ruthlessness.

Upshot

Two of my main femme fatales are doctors. Perhaps there is something to that, the feeling that, when other characters are vulnerable, a femme fatale can do the most damage. The trick, I feel, is to write the archetype without writing a cliché.

Portrait of a Character – Jonathan Archer

Portrait of a Character – Jonathan Archer

Every Star Trek series has a memorable captain.

Origins

Portrait of a Character – Jonathan Archer
Captain Archer

The character is, of course, Star Trek canon. In canon, Archer  is the first captain of a Warp Five star ship, the NX-01 Enterprise. He gets the nod over his friend, A. G. Robinson (they are both test pilots).

He becomes, eventually, a Federation Representative and then President of the Federation. He also becomes an Admiral. Some of the order of these events is a bit unclear. And that’s canon.

Portrayal

As in canon, Jonathan Archer is played by Scott Bakula.

Personality

Affable, intelligent and eager to get out there, Archer is in for a surprise when he meets any number of new species who are less than happy about meeting him, eating meat, smelling his dog, shaking his hand, eating in front of him, letting him walk on their grass or do any number of what we would consider to be easy and nonconfrontational acts. It’s not easy being first.

Portrait of a Character – Jonathan Archer
Archer during the Xindi War

By the time of the Xindi War, Jonathan is obsessed with finding the Xindi ultimate weapon. He is as tense as anyone was in the United States a few months after 9/11. He’s been charged with a serious mission, and needs to see it through. And that means torture, piracy and other ruthless tactics. It’s not easy to lose one’s innocence, either.

When the serious concludes, he has been through a great deal, including the death of a close friend. Space has changed him but, ultimately, he has grown as a person.

As I write him, I add a second ship assignment, the USS Zefram Cochrane (DC-1500), in Fortune. The Cochrane is better-equipped than the Enterprise and can hold more people. It has more advanced weaponry but it isn’t any faster. Because Tripp is gone, and T’Pol has returned to Vulcan, Jonathan selects Malcolm to be his First Officer. Malcolm is on paternity leave when Archer asks him to come along. Therefore, Hoshi fills in temporarily. Travis continues as pilot. Phlox has also departed, returning to his home world. Hence the role of Chief Medical Officer is filled by Blair Claymore. The Science Officer position goes to Ensign Lucy Stone.

In Equinox, Malcolm reveals that Jonathan is elected as a Representative and the Cochrane instead falls to Malcolm. Jonathan’s tenure as a Representative is also shown in  Flight of the Bluebird, and his later career and years are in Bread and A Hazy Shade. Being an eligible bachelor means the tabloid press is also very interested.

Relationships

Deborah Haddon

During the events of Together, Jonathan is paired up with Security Crewman Deb Haddon. The relationship is unequal, as he ranks so much higher than she does. Complicating matters is the fact that she has a crush on him.

Her crush is also revealed during the alternative timeline story, The Black Widow.

By the time of Fortune, he realizes that he misses, if not her (she is already married to Chip Masterson by that time), then he at least misses the idea of having someone in his life.

Miva

Portrait of a Character – Jonathan Archer
Jonathan and Porthos

In Fortune, they meet. They initially cannot get married because she is wed to another. But that doesn’t stop a relationship from developing, for Miva has as open a marriage as all Calafans do. For Jonathan, though, things are more complicated and difficult. He feels he can be with her during dreams, but not in reality until she becomes available. They are still unwed as of the events depicted in Flight of the Bluebird. She is eventually widowed, and they wed about a year after that.

Their marriage is a long-term one, shown in A Hazy Shade. I currently have an even later portrait of their marriage on the drawing board. That story is tentatively entitled These Are the Destinations.

Ebrona

A I write the E2 stories, there are actually two kick backs in time. In the first one, Jonathan takes up with an Ikaaran woman named Ebrona. He loves her very deeply, but her life is cut short, due to a genetic disease that the Ikaarans call the decline. Together, they have a son, Henry. Jonathan’s feelings for Ebrona are depicted in If I Could Do it All Over Again.

Esilia

While this is a canon E2 relationship, she is never seen, and neither are any full-blooded Ikaarans. Therefore, I have had to conjecture about her looks and their relationship. As with Ebrona, the feelings are very deep. However, by the time he weds Esilia, a treatment is found for the decline. Hence Jonathan is not widowed as early as before. In addition, during the second kick back in time, Jonathan learns that Ebrona kept some things from him. He doesn’t have those issues with Esilia.

Theme Music

In Together, he has two themes. By himself, his theme is Jefferson Airplane’s Someone to Love. With Deb, his theme is The Cardigans’ Lovefool.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Jonathan Archer
Mirror Jonathan Archer

Jonathan’s mirror universe counterpart  is canon, and his death, at the hands of Hoshi, is also canon. I don’t mess with that. Hence, at the time of Reversal, the mirror universe Archer is long dead, and Doug and Tripp do not have to deal with him. Since he was poisoned by Hoshi, it’s entirely possible that that was via tricoulamine.

As of the writing of this blog post, I do not have many mirror universe Reversal prequels in mind. But that may change, as I may be writing more of a back story for Ian Reed. Hence Jonathan might get some air time.

Quote

“Smile just a tiny bit. It’s been a helluva day. I just want to see a little something good.”

Upshot

Handsome and heroic, Jonathan is a quintessential leader. But he’s also torn and doubtful at times, and is far from perfect. I hope the way I write him dovetails sufficiently with canon.