Progress Report – January 2015

Progress Report – January 2015

January 2015 was busy.

Posted Works

It was a good month for tying up some small loose ends online.

First of all, I added The Reptile Speaks, Insecurity, Losin’ It, Transported, Truth, Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before and That’s Not My Name to the G & T Show forums.

On Wattpad, I added In Between Days as an anthology, adding Apple, Local Flavor, A Kind of Blue, Brown, Gainful, The Tribeand Friday Visit to it. Plus I started spinning out Intolerance.

I posted Supply and DemandQuartermaster, Worry, Promise, and Marbles to Fanfiction.net. I started posting Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.

Also, I imported the following completed stories to Fictionpad: Supply and Demand, Quartermaster,  Worry, Marbles, and The Three of Us.

On Ad Astra, in response to a prompt about crack ship pairings, I posted a new Times of the HG Wells story, Makeover.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | January 2015

Milestones

Over eighty stories have at least ten reviews and 1,000 reads.  And of those, twenty have twenty or more reviews and 5,000 or more reads.  Of those, five have fifty or more reviews and 10,000 or more reads.  And of those, two have one hundred or more combined reviews and over 20,000 reads, Reversal and Revved Up, which accomplishes this feat with only one posting.

See the Stats page for individual read and review counts.

WIP Corner

I worked on The Badge of Humanity, the third and final book in the Obolonk trilogy. Also, I spent time on the earlier two books, including working with beta readers.

Prep Work

I worked on my Amazon author pages and my Facebook author page, and I continued requesting reviews for Untrustworthy. Plus I even sent out some signed copies!

This Month’s Productivity Killers

Being published! Seriously – as paradoxical as it may sound, you get emotional and busy, and so it’s more difficult to concentrate on being productive. Plus I spent a lot of time concentrating on wholly original work; Star Trek fan fiction was often set aside in favor of that. I was also, in the final third of the month, again immersed in school at Quinnipiac.

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Review – The Three of Us

Review – The Three of Us

The Three of Us is one of my best fan fiction efforts.

Background

As the third piece of the E2 series, I wanted to pursue a Star Trek fan fiction story that I had had in mind for quite a while.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Three of Us
The Three of Us

This was an idea about a love triangle/threesome among Lili, Jay, and Malcolm. Of all four stories set during that time period, this one was the most fully realized, and the easiest to write. I had tons of it in my head even before pen went to paper (and then I transcribed it to pixels). I wish all storytelling was like this!

Plot

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Sparrow and the Blue Jay
The Sparrow and the Blue Jay

The story begins with Malcolm providing a little news and ship’s gossip to the still-injured Ethan Shapiro.

Malcolm speaks a little about the remaining single women on board the Enterprise, but he mainly discusses an upcoming baseball game between the MACOs and Starfleet. The action shifts as Lili tries out for the Starfleet team and then Shelby and Andrew talk about why she won’t be playing. The first chapter ends with Judy Kelly Rostov going into labor, the mark of the second child to be born on the generational ship (Valleri Rostov, so-named because Davy Jones of the Monkees had recently died when I was writing that part of the story).

As the book continues, more and more of the single women are snapped up, until only two are left ….

Music

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated M.

Upshot

As stated above, I had a lot of this storyline in my head as I was writing and even beforehand. From the weddings to the aliens to the spirituality to the triumphs and tragedies, the love and the nastiness, this is one of my absolute favorites of my works.

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Portrait of a Character – Ines Ramirez

Portrait of a Character – Ines Ramirez

Origins

I wanted one of the Beckett-O’Day-MaddenDigiorno-Reed children to have a Calafan-style set of dual day/night relationships, much like Lili, Doug, and Malcolm. I decided that Neil would be the one to be in such a situation.

Portrayal

I see America Ferrera in this role.

Portrait of a Character – Ines Ramirez
America Ferrera as Ines Ramirez

It was very important to me that Ines be “played” by an actress with Hispanic ethnicity.

She doesn’t really have science fiction credits, but she does have fantasy credits. It would not surprise me if she was eventually tapped for a superhero film or a movie based on a comic book series or the like. She seems to be a versatile and  likable actress.

Personality

Smart and friendly, the daughter of Jenny and Francisco is practical and bighearted. Her home is your home.

Relationships

Neil Digiorno-Madden

Although they never marry, Ines’s heart belongs to Neil, and they have two children, Jenny Lee (Jennifer Leonora) and Martin Kevin, who is named for Kevin Madden-Beckett and is also one of the eventual ancestors to canon character Martin Madden (who I name Martin Douglas Madden). Ines is also the second of Neil’s loves; he meets Yinora before he meets her.

Mirror Universe

Ines cannot exist in the Mirror, as Jennifer does not end up with Francisco. The Mirror Jennifer instead ends up with the Calafan, Treve, and never has a child.

Quote

“Let’s get down to it. I can’t just hang around and complain. I feel like we need to get things settled. But nothing without Norri’s okay. I mean, right?”

Upshot

Ines could use some more screen time, as she is a pleasant and easy to write character. Plus she more or less comes as a package deal with Neil, who is a fun character, too. She will be back.

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Review – Entanglements

Review – Entanglements

Entanglements was not originally a work I had planned.

Background

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Entanglements
Entanglements

The idea was to go straight from Reflections Down a Corridor to The Three of Us. But Reflections ended up being way too long. I like where and how it was split, though, as it serves the title themes moving from individuals to couples to a threesome. Hence this book achieves a kind of bridging effect.

Entanglements is mainly about coupling, both romantic and erotic, and the tangling of fighting and also getting involved – for better or for worse. Just as Reflections is about individual exploration, Entanglements begins to show people colliding with each other. Naturally, there is a great deal of collateral damage from these collisions.

Plot

The story opens with Captain Archer announcing the wedding of Tripp Tucker to T’Pol.  As he makes the announcement, the single men in particular are beginning to notice that it affects them. Part of it may be some desire specifically for T’Pol, but it is also because this is the second wedding on the Enterprise. This generational ship is starting to slowly, inexorably, convert itself into the equivalent of a flying small town.

But the real crisis arises from a different relationship. When Josh Rosen proposes to and, eventually, marries Karin Bernstein, it puts fellow Jewish crew member Ethan Shapiro onto a steep downward spiral. That sequence was one of the first parts of the story that I knew I wanted to write and, once I got to it in the plot, it flowed quickly and smoothly.

Music

Dusty Springfield | Entanglements
Dusty says it all

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated M.

Upshot

This story is more transitional and so the beginning and the end are a tad more abrupt than for the other three in the E2 series. But I like the bookending of the Tucker/T’Pol announcement with the Jenny/Aidan wedding, and was particularly pleased to be able to use Jenny’s wedding song again – and to denote that Aidan isn’t quite the right partner (in the prime timeline, she marries Francisco).

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Spotlight on Ring Phasers

Spotlight on Ring Phasers

Ring phasers were a quick idea to solve a problem I did not expect.

Background

Spotlight on Ring Phasers
Ring Phaser (actually a Za’Tarc ring from the Stargate universe)

When I originally wrote the Times of the HG Wells series, I had an idea that there would be small phasers. However, I did not really fully develop the concept. Because, in canon, phasers have fairly steadily gotten smaller in size. Therefore, it made some sense  to have them, in the very deep future, be rather small pieces of equipment. This also worked as a cover, for Rick Daniels and other time travelers would need to carry a weapon to a lot of time periods where carrying such a weapon would be problematic.

Appearance

It was not until Multiverse II and Another Piece of the Action that I realized that this would be rather useful.

Spotlight on Ring Phasers
English: Ring made of tungsten (tungstencarbide?) Deutsch: Ring aus Wolframcarbid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For characters needing to hide a phaser (and maybe even make it look like something else), the idea of a ring configuration works.

And for female time travelers in particular in history, they could even place the ring phaser onto their left ring finger and claim that it was a wedding ring.

The idea is that the ring phaser is about as plain and nondescript as the idea to the right. Furthermore, time travelers would often have to worry about theft and beatings. Therefore, the article could not intentionally appear ostentatious or particularly expensive.

Upshot

For a small afterthought type of original technology, I think it turned out pretty well. It would not shock me if a deep future storyline, either in the books or some hypothetical to-be-aired series or film, featured something like them.

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Portrait of a Character – Von

Portrait of a Character – Von

Origins

Portrait of a Character – Von
Von Hayes

I needed a bad guy character for the Times of the HG Wells series who would not be found out immediately. Enter Von, who is named for retired Phillies outfielder Von Hayes (yet another backhanded reference to Jay Hayes).

Von was meant to be someone who Carmen and Kevin in particular would rely on, mistakenly, for far too long as temporal damage continued to happen.

Portrayal

I see Peter Dinklage in this role.

Portrait of a Character – Von
Peter Dinklage as Von

The actor is brilliant and interesting; I feel he can play pretty much any role thrown at him.

Frankly, I am a bit surprised that I have not yet seen a photomanipulation of him in a Star Trek uniform or as a Ferengi or any other species (including human).

Personality

A bit secretive and paranoid, Von has plenty of reason to be so – he is working in cahoots with the Perfectionists, the enemy faction. But he also has a softer side. There is a garden in the center of the Temporal Integrity Commission. Even though he is not required to do so, he is the one who prunes the roses and tends to the day lilies and lilacs and whatnot. He uses an old-fashioned pair of shears that figure somewhat prominently in Spring Thaw.

Relationships

Von has no known relationships at this time.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Von
Mirror Von

There aren’t necessarily any impediments to Von existing in the Mirror Universe. Perhaps he’d be honorable, but I really would prefer him as being tightly wound.

Quote

“Anyone can use those shears. I know she did.”

Upshot

I like this character but he was sorely underutilized. I’m not sure if or when or how I could possibly revisit him, but he was a character with potential who should have had more depth to him.

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Review – Reflections Down a Corridor

Review – Reflections Down a Corridor

Reflections Down a Corridor kicks off a series which I feel is one of my best.

Background

I had wanted to explore the E2 timeline for quite some time.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Reflections Down a Corridor
Reflections Down a Corridor

The first of four Star Trek fan fiction books covering that era was this one. The title refers to not only the subspace corridor where the Enterprise was hit by a Kovaalan particle wake (and thereby thrown back in time over a century); it also refers to personal reflections.

Personal reflections include the mirrors that we hold up to ourselves (this is, for once, not a reference to the Mirror Universe), the relationship a person has with himself or herself, and reflection in the pure sense of thought. As the NX-01 can no longer perform too many exploratory duties, it’s too early to be defensive and go after the Xindi, and going to Earth is out of the question, exploration begins to come from within.

Plot

For the crew of the USS Enterprise, the stars are all in the wrong places. The story opens with beginning to understand just what happened. This includes learning just what the date really is, as they can’t just up and ask the Vulcans. Immediately, Captain Archer figures out that there are going to be some uncomfortable restrictions on movement and communications. He enlists the help of not only the regular senior staff (e. g. the other canon characters), but also begins to lean on some heads of the smaller departments, such as Chef Slocum in Food Service, and Shelby Pike in Botany.

Navigating his own depression, and the crew’s, while honorably stepping back as the women begin pairing up with others, Archer in particular is affected. But others’ feelings begin to surface. Ethan Shapiro, Andrew Miller, and Josh Rosen begin cautiously circling the only female Jewish crew member, Karin Bernstein. Maryam Haroun asks Phlox‘s help in deciding between the two Muslim male crew members, Azar Hamidi and Ramih Azar. Lili O’Day does her best to keep it together, but also believes rumors about Jay Hayes and Malcolm Reed.

And then there are Daniel Chang and Sandra Sloane ….

Music

The Belle Stars – Iko Iko

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

These four books really were a labor of love, and they were great fun to write. This one, I feel, aptly kicks it all off.

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Portrait of a Character – Mary Reed

Portrait of a Character – Mary Reed

Origins

The character, of course, is canon, and is Malcolm‘s mother.

Portrait of a Character – Mary Reed
Jane Carr as Mary Reed

I give her the maiden name of Dunphy, which comes from a gravestone I saw in Newton, Massachusetts, where a Wilbur Reed (mentioned in Concord) is buried, for real, near a stone that just says Dunphy.

Portrayal

As in canon, Mary is portrayed by actress Jane Carr.

Personality

Reserved and sometimes a little cowed by Stuart, Mary quietly holds her own, but only when she needs to. I wanted to make her a little more than the knitting grandmother I made her in Fortune, so I added a war effort-style job in Gainful and The Tribe, and the need for her to begin caring for Stuart (and sometimes telling him the occasional little white lie) in Saturn Rise. When Malcolm is in serious legal trouble in Shell Shock, she asks if they should call the family lawyer, and tells him to be strong.

Her personality comes out best in Gainful/The Tribe and Saturn Rise, where she gets more lines and a bit of assertiveness about her desire to work outside the home and, later, her desire to accept at least Lili‘s other children and have them call her Nan. It’s a bit unclear as to whether she accepts Melissa‘s sons as her grandsons. That’s an area I might explore in the future.

Relationships

Stuart Reed

Mary’s only known relationship is with Malcolm’s father, Stuart. They have two children; I write their daughter, Madeleine, as being younger than Malcolm although that’s not confirmed in canon.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Mary Reed
Mirror Mary

Mary has to exist in the Mirror Universe, because Malcolm’s counterpart, Ian, does.

I like the idea of her being much more of a career woman, and not the homebody that she seems to be in canon. She’s not necessarily an overly sexed-up Mirror Universe woman, but I do see her as at least attempting to be much more independent.

Quote

“Long ago, when humans were barely even human, the birth of a child was an occasion. The men would leave on a hunt, or some such. … Perhaps there were a few exceptions. And the women, they all gathered ‘round. It was the entire tribe. They came together, in order to celebrate such a grand occasion and welcome the new tribe member.”

Upshot

This character was barely mentioned in canon, although that dovetails rather neatly with the canon situation that Malcolm was in. He quite simply kept out of his own family’s way, and they didn’t pursue him, either. For Malcolm, it was likely a rather lonely existence. I’ve tried to keep Mary like that. A decent mother, but a better grandmother, and kind of not too sure of what to do with Malcolm half the time.

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Review – Bribery

Review – Bribery

Bribery fills in a storyline gap.

Background

After writing Reversal, I got to thinking about a missing piece of information.

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

Just how – and why – did Yimar and Treve go along with everything? And how did Polloria insinuate herself into the family?

Plot

As a prelude story, the information given about the Calafans is pretty sketchy. Chawev, the First Minister, plays a guessing game with his three children, Treve, Yimar, and Chelben. He wants them to guess who’s coming to dinner, quite literally. Bits of background information flow in, that Yipran is comatose, and is being cared for by a Dr. Baden. Baden has helpers, but only one is female. And that’s who’s on her way to join them.

Adding to the background information, their home is filled with the smell of cooking prako. Treve explains that it’s an expensive dish, and Chawev counters that their guest has generously provided it. Further, he tells them that things are going to be different, and they’re going to eat better from then on.  This rather neatly conforms to what Doug and Lili are eventually told during Local Flavor.

When Polloria, the guest of honor, arrives, she comes bearing gifts. There’s a pretty stylus for Treve, who is still, at that point in the timeline, destined for a diplomatic career. Yimar is given a small bracelet, prefiguring the Cuff of Lo gift in Friday Visit, Together, and Temper, and the bracelet for Melissa in Fortune.  Chelben, who is still a rather small child, is given a stuffed linfep toy. Treve and Yimar, at least, see through Polloria, at least in her efforts to insinuate herself into the family. As for her ambition to become the new High Priestess, that part is mentioned but they don’t seem to realize just how far she will go, or how far she has already gone.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I like the little glimpse into Calafan life, including the use of a fork, which prefigures a small plot point in Reversal.

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