Progress Report – November 2014

Progress Report – November 2014

November 2014, I wrote for NaNoWriMo. Hence this was the second Obolonk book, The Polymer Beat.

Posted Works

So I continued posting Reversal on Wattpad and The Three of Us on Fanfiction.net.Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | November 2014 And on the G & T Show forums, I posted Across the Universe and began to post Hold Your Dominion. Also, on Ad Astra, I unexpectedly got an idea and added Gratitude, yet another take on Lili killing She Who Almost Didn’t Breed in Time.  Hence I added that story to the In Between Days Collection, along with Bomb(e), Dishing it Out, Flight of the Bluebird, Red, The Decision, and Theorizing.

Milestones

There are over 75 stories with (combined) at least 10 reviews and 1,000 reads. Of those, 17 have at least 20 reviews and 5,000 reads, and three of those have 50 or more combined reviews and 10,000 or more combined reads (Intolerance, Reversal,  and Take Back the Night). So of non-Star Trek stories, three of the six posted (I’m not including Untrustworthy or the Obolonk stories in this group) have over 100 reviews, and two of those have over 6,000 reads (Revved Up and The Social Media Guide).  Revved Up has over 30,000 reads, which makes it the second-most read individual story after Reversal on Ad Astra, and third-most read when you count combined reads (Together beats it with over 31,000 combined reads). So see the Stats page for individual read and review counts.

WIP Corner

I spent the month doing NaNoWriMo! I added over 50,000 words to The Polymer Beat, which is the second book in the Obolonk trilogy, and finished the story. This was also a productive effort for other reasons. Because I could put together many stray loose ends. These became a preliminary outline for the third book, The Badge of Humanity.

Prep Work

I spent some time splitting up Everybody Knows This is Nowhere in preparation for posting it on Fanfiction.net.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

Apart from NaNo (technically not a productivity killer at all, except that it kills non-NaNo productivity), the main issues were schoolwork and looking for work.

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Review – The Tribe

Review – The Tribe

What is your tribe?

Background

I wanted to cover a moment where unlikely allies would work together.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Before Days | The Tribe
Before Days

The end of Mary Reed’s first day at work proved a great backdrop. I also had wanted to revisit her new job, and so this prompt  made for a great opportunity to do just that.

Mary would be needed – and that can sometimes be an issue for people with grown children. How do you find a new purpose so that you can feel needed again? For this little story, Mary was absolutely indispensable.

Plot

Review – The Tribe

As Mary takes the maglev train home to Kota Baru after a long day at work, the train suddenly stops. Briefly, the lights go out, which is a little scary but not a lot. This is her first day on the job, and she was asked to start on the day of her interview, so the whole thing has been even more unexpected. Nearly as importantly, her husband, Stuart, has not been fully supportive of her working outside the home, even as a part of the Earth-Romulan War effort. And now she is going to be late, and his supper will be delayed. It is hardly an auspicious beginning to her working career.

When the power comes back on, a heavily pregnant woman sitting across the aisle from her looks mighty uncomfortable.

Review – The Tribe

A young Tellarite male comments, and it becomes obvious very quickly that the pregnant woman’s water has broken. Except for the young Tellarite, all of the men in the train car leave.  Two Vulcans come over and begin timing the contractions. A few women donate sweaters or the like to create an impromptu pillow. Mary’s job is to talk to the woman, whose name is Penda (this is a reference to a possible canon name for Uhura).

When the train finally starts moving again, the people are not friends. But  they have shared something all the same. And Mary, like the pair of Vulcans and the young Tellarite and others, returns to her life.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I liked this little slice of her life, and how even in the future something like a birth could have the potential to truly go wrong, or at the very least get messy.

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Portrait of a Character – Erika Hernandez

Portrait of a Character – Erika Hernandez

Origins

This canon character was seen during the fourth season of Enterprise.

Portrayal

As in canon, the character is played by actress Ada Maris.

Portrait of a Character – Erika Hernandez
Ada Maris as Captain Erika Hernandez

I am not the only person who enjoyed the portrayal of this tough, no-nonsense character.

Personality

Strong but fair, Erika was the perfect captain for Daranaean first contact in The Cure is Worse Than the Disease. The Daranaeans do not know what to make of a smart woman who is in charge of anything more daunting than a large household.

By the time of Take Back the Night, Erika is forced back to deal with those sentient marsupial canids again, and she is none too pleased with having to do that.

Relationships

Jonathan Archer

The only known relationship is the canon one, with Jonathan Archer. The way I write it, it is pursued a bit in More, More, More! but otherwise the relationship is dropped. Neither of them try very hard.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Erika Hernandez
Ada Maris as the Mirror Erika Hernandez

The Mirror Universe version of Erika shows up in Dishing it Out, a crossover collaboration story written with FalseBill. We decided that she would be the only slightly competent chef for the Empress Hoshi Sato. By the time of Temper, Erika is long gone.

 

 

Quote

“The troubling thing about the Daranaeans is their treatment of their females. Casual sexism is tossed around just as readily as are vapid discussions about the weather. I was privy to two rituals engaged in by the females, which centered on pregnancy and birth. Within these rituals are subtle distinctions among the castes which serve to promote Prime Wives and denigrate the last caste women, while walking a thin line when it came to the secondaries. In addition, we learned that a last caste child of perhaps three or four years of age was not permitted to join in with the home schooling that the other children enjoyed. Whether this was by law or custom or both, I do not know. When asked, we were merely informed that that caste “did not believe” in education – a statement that I find difficult to believe.”

Upshot

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Review – Gainful

Review – Gainful

Gainful comes from a prompt about first jobs.

Background

I wanted to show someone who wasn’t so young entering the workforce for the same time.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Before Days | Gainful
Before Days

I particularly wanted to pay tribute to my maternal grandmother. She had only worked outside of the home for a few years, and that was all during the Second World War, as a part of the war effort.

Yes, my grandmother was a kind of Rosie the Riveter type (she worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard).

Enter Mary Reed.

Plot

Review – Gainful
We Can Do It poster for Westinghouse, closely associated with Rosie the Riveter, although not a depiction of the cultural icon itself. Pictured Geraldine Doyle (1924-2010), at age 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I figured Mary would be as driven to help out during the Earth-Romulan War as my own grandmother had been during World War II.

But Mary seemed to not be as strong as my part-Polish grandmother, so it would be more of an intellectual pursuit. Furthermore, this is the future of Star Trek, and so brute force or assembly lines would not be in the cards.

I recalled a character I had created while writing two pieces for Dispatches from the Romulan War – pop singer Kurt Fong. I hit upon the idea of Fong needing a new person to help open his mail and respond to it, and so I was able to attach Mary and her diplomatic skills to this project. It would be a fun job for her, but also a challenge. She would be reminded, as others wrote to Fong, that Malcolm could be injured or killed at any time, too. Her boss, Ehigha Ejiogu, would be a Nigerian man young enough to be her son. Her coworker, the Tellarite Cympia Triff, would have an impressive beard.

Sharp-eyed readers will recall that Ejiogu and Fong are, in the Mirror Universe, two of Doug‘s kills.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I really like how this one turned out, and was  pleased to write a sequel, The Tribe. As for whether I’ll revisit Mary at work, the question remains up in the air.

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Spotlight – Temporal Enhancer cuff/enzyme

Spotlight on Temporal Enhancer cuff/enzyme

The Temporal Enhancer cuff was a weird idea.

Background

I wanted a kind of strange means of controlling time travel.

Spotlight – Temporal Enhancer cuff and enzyme
Temporal Enhancer Cuff

However, the means would be the antithesis of canon.  Therefore, I decided, the best and clearest way to accomplish this feat would be by making almost a biological means of traveling in time. Yes, it is that bizarre.

For a time traveler such as Helen Walker, it is a three-step process. First, she puts on the cuff.  Then a separate controller selects the time and place. Then the subject swallows the enzyme, Trichronium. In this case, the subject is Helen. And then the process of traveling in time begins. The physical transference process is somewhat similar to the canon act of beaming from one place to another. Helen even reports that the enzyme tastes a little bit like cantaloupe.

As for the invention and the process, I am somewhat mixed in my assessment of it. I think it is a decent idea but not necessarily with the greatest of executions. For one thing, the name of the enzyme is far too close to the name I had already created for a nerve toxin, Tricoulamine.

With rather different purposes for both of these chemical compounds, the all too similar names could potentially prove confusing. In addition, the use of numerical prefixes for nearly all originally-created chemical compounds (e. g. bicoulamine and quatromenaline) made for a far too predictable naming convention.

Upshot

As I note above, I believe that the idea was a decent one. It was most assuredly a unique one. However, the execution left far too much to be desired. What could have been a great invention turned out to just be okay. And that is not a good thing!

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Portrait of a Character – Major Strong Bear Dawson

Portrait of a Character – Major Strong Bear Dawson

Origins

When I first wrote There’s Something About Hoshi, I needed to have a replacement for Major Jay Hayes, as he had died in canon. Enter Dawson, who was originally a WASP. But then I learned that there is a canon  Star Trek TAS character, Dawson Running Bear. Hence Dawson got his name and a bit of his origins.

Portrayal

Strong Bear (Bud) is played by actor David Midthunder.

Portrait of a Character – Major Strong Bear Dawson
David Midthunder as Strong Bear Dawson

As is often the case with ethnic characters, it was very important for me to ‘cast’ an actor who is of that ethnicity.

Dawson is proud and powerful, and Midthunder seems to be both of those things and also supremely confident. This makes for, I feel, a dynamite combination.

Personality

The strong and silent type, Bud is devoted to duty. However, in There’s Something About Hoshi, he is nearly as affected as the other straight men are.  In Shell Shock, he is initially one of the accused, and he and Malcolm meet during the experience. By the time of On the Radio, he is a valued member of the crew and even T’Pol can figuratively let her hair down a bit in front of him. But he’s still pretty far removed. That would be the case for nearly anyone, though, who comes into a work situation much later than the initial stage of building the team.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Major Strong Bear Dawson
David Midthunder as Mirror Universe Strong Bear Dawson

There is no reason for Strong Bear Dawson to not exist in the Mirror Universe. I imagine him as  a person living off the grid and more or less thoroughly embracing his roots.

I do not believe he would be called Bud, either.

Quote

“HQ wanted more experience after the war. They would’ve assigned me earlier but I was getting off assignment with freighter defense and then the Rommie War broke out and they didn’t want to change horses in the middle of the stream. Helluva way for me to meet my new troops, eh?”

Upshot

I like this character well enough, and he is a kind of utility player. I suspect I could place him into other scenarios and he would do fine. I will have to find places for him to shine.

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Review – Shake Your Body

Review – Shake Your Body

Shake what?

Background

Before 9/11, for a lot of people, their “where were you when you heard?” moment occurred when the Challenger space shuttle exploded.

Barking Up the Must Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Shake Your Body
Shake Your Body

So at the time, I was teaching as a part of getting credit toward my Juris Doctorate. So the incident was rattling not only because of the deaths, but also because of Christa McAuliffe‘s connections to New England and teaching. In addition, she and I were even born on the same day (albeit 14 years apart).

Plot

Review – Shake Your Body
As the Perfectionists, enemies of the Temporal Integrity Commission, work to assure that the Challenger does not explode, the Varg-i-yeh are coming to attack. Hence Helen Walker and her father escape to the Mirror Universe, where Richard Daniels is not allowed to pursue them. Also, on Lafa II, Malcolm Reed and his wife, Lili O’Day Beckett Reed, see a mysterious light in the sky, which turns out to be the Walkers, in a stolen time ship, opening up a passageway to the Mirror Universe.

By the time the book is finished, three members of the Temporal Integrity Commission are dead, and the alien enemy is practically on their doorstep.

Music

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

The story works pretty well although I will be the first to admit I was getting tired of writing this series.

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Portrait of a Character – Helen Walker

Portrait of a Character – Helen Walker

Helen Walker comes from an older storyline.

Origins

For the HG Wells stories, there had to be a few central villains. And so Helen and Milton Walker were born. He’s her father.

In the older time travel series that I had created, Helen was actually Tom Grant‘s ex, and she was mighty bossy and ruthless there, eventually joining their enemies. Hence Helen remained an enemy but some of the details were changed.

Portrayal

Helen is portrayed by actress Katie Holmes.

Portrait of a Character – Helen Walker

I wanted someone who would be pretty but could, behind a lovely smile and a sweet visage, be ruthless.

Personality

Spoiled and amoral, Helen is the face that launched a thousand time ships. But she hardly deserves the attention or the accolades. Instead, she’s tasked with “putting right what once went wrong” in history, as a nod to the television series, Quantum Leap. But Helen doesn’t do it out of altruism or a desire to get home or anything of the sort. Instead, she’s a (fairly) obedient soldier of her father’s. His dream is to save people and to be the one who prevents wars and the like. But he can’t get anything done without destroying other details of history, much like a bull in a china shop. He’s often cleaning up after Helen’s messes, too.

But at least she’s not their assassin. That dubious honor goes to double agent Marisol Castillo.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Helen Walker

There are no real impediments to Helen existing in the Mirror Universe, but deeper future characters have several more chances to not have a perfect duplicate on the other side of the proverbial pond.

I think she’d be more careful and sensitive. I write MU women as often being beholden to, and subservient to, men. In earlier times, that would make a Mirror Universe woman slavelike. But Helen belongs to a time period where it might snag her a better husband instead. She could potentially have a better future than a lot of other MU women.

Quote

“If they like time travel so much, I bet we could work a bit together. They do their conquering – whatever they like, actually. All we need to do is keep a step ahead, and go back, either to make changes for our own purposes or, if necessary, to undo whatever they may damage. And not only will the Temporal Integrity Commission have their hands full, but so will Section 31, and the Federation, and anyone else who might have any issues with all that we are attempting to accomplish.”

Upshot

Portrait of a Character – Helen Walker

When I created the character, I had no idea that there really had been a Helen Walker who was an actress.

At the end of the series, Helen is carted off to jail. I’m not sure how to bring her back, except in prequels or flashbacks.

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