Progress Report – September 2015

Progress Report – September 2015

September 2015 was a good month but not for writing.

Posted Works

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | September 2015This month, as the new semester started, I was not able to get a lot of straightforward writing in, as I was also working at an internship.

I decided that the method of posting one longer ‘story’ which is really an anthology of sorts for short works, was the way to go on Fanfiction.net. Most of the single chapter works there do not do so well, whereas multi-chapter works get a good number of read counts and reviews.  Therefore, for the HG Wells stories, the plan is to put prequels up, in an anthology called Clockworks, then post the books, and then post the post-Stranger books as another anthology, called Deep Future.

Clockworks now includes Desperation, Recruitment, The Honky Tonk Angel, Briefing, Preparations, Marvels, Pat the Bunny, Where O Where, and Candy.

On Wattpad, I finished posting Temper and added Coveted Commodity to In Between Days.

On the G & T Show forums, I posted The Puzzle and added More, More, More! to Before Days.

Milestones

See the Stats page for individual read and review counts.

WIP Corner

I spent a small amount of time on the Barnstorming story, Overtime, but it was my lowest priority during the month.

Prep Work

I spent more time working on outlining this year’s NaNoWriMo project, The Enigman Cave. I worked out many of the names and logistics (ship size, etc.) so that I would not have to figure those out during NaNoWriMo.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

School! I was hammered with papers and reports, and it doesn’t seem as if it will let up anytime soon. This is distressing and very tiring. So whose idea was graduate school, anyway?

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Portrait of a Character – Leland Loomis

Portrait of a Character – Leland Loomis

Origins

The character is, of course, canon, and comes from the Carpenter Street episode.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Leland Loomi
Leland Orser as Loomis

As in canon, Loomis (who had no first name in canon) is played by Leland Orser.

This image is actually from the film Se7en, but I think it’s perfect.

Personality

Weaselly, immoral, slobby, and snappish, Leland is always on the make. In canon, he willingly brings victims to people who it’s later determined are Xindi Reptilians hellbent on committing genocide on the human race.

I follow him after the episode, into the maximum security mental hospital that is sure to be his next residence.

Relationships

Leland’s only known (sort of) relationship is with Phyllis in the asylum. But, really, there’s nothing there.

Theme Music

Of course, his theme song is KISS’s Detroit Rock City.

Mirror Universe

There are no impediments to Leland existing in the Mirror. Maybe he’d be kinder.

Portrait of a Character – Leland Loomis
Leland Orser with his real-life wife, the actress Jeanne Tripplehorn

Maybe he’d even have a family. The possibilities are pretty open although I have no idea where I’d put him. His story, Detroit Rock City, is the earliest full story in the In Between Days series. He even predates Rita Spinelli and Donald Janeway, and Lily Sloane and Zefram Cochrane, so I’m not so sure who he’d be interacting with, except for the first Dr. Morgan (maybe). Bringing the Mirror Universe further into the past isn’t on my current radar unless I really feel compelled to write something new.

Quote

“I’m not faking it. And Christ on a cracker, man, I am not nutso! It’s real!”

Upshot

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Review – Wider Than the Sargasso Sea

Review – Wider Than the Sargasso Sea

The Sargasso Sea? It might be a stretch. Or maybe not. The gulf between different people and different species certainly feels impossible to surmount.

Background

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Wider than the Sargasso Sea
Wider than the Sargasso Sea

So for a prompt about working together, I made a decision to revisit Gina Nolan‘s universe and wrap things up a bit. The best way,  I felt, was to try to bring the story more or less full circle. Hence the Nolan family would have to meet the Breen head on, but not in battle. Instead, in peacetime, they would have to deal with them, somehow. And for Gina and Freela in particular, that feels way too hard.

Plot

It’s about twenty years since the Breen attack on Earth. Gina and Gabby have more or less moved on.  Gina has even remarried, to the Klingon, Kittriss. Life’s going pretty well, and Gabrielle is in a special school for the performing arts. Freela, her Klingon stepsister, is starting college (she’s going into engineering).

Then a Breen family moves into the neighborhood, and Gina is one of the many people yelling, “Breen, go home!

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I don’t know if the solution was too pat. I didn’t want for there to be easy answers, but I don’t know. I’m a bit ambivalent about this story. I feel that the characterizations are good and the plot line is a decent one. But I do wonder if the story arc and its payoff are truly believable, and I welcome feedback (as I do for all of the things I write).

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Portrait of a Character – Mistra

Portrait of a Character – Mistra

Mistra works as a braver character than Libba, although there are similarities between the two secondary female Daranaean characters.

Origins

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Mistra
Mistra, one of the Daranaeans (secondary female)

After writing The Cure is Worse Than the Disease, I got a lot of requests to follow the story and see what else would happen to Daranaean women.

Hence the idea of a protest was irresistible, but the protesters needed something to, well, protest.

Enter the innocent, Mistra.

Portrayal

I generally don’t have anyone ‘playing’ Daranaean characters. Mistra is no exception. But if anyone has any ideas, feel free to put them into the comments section. These images are, of course, of German Shepherd dogs.

Personality

Meek and mild, like most Daranaean secondary wives, Mistra isn’t one for leading like Dratha. But she isn’t completely helpless, like Cama. Instead, she’s in the middle, the filling in the sandwich. And like most secondaries, her job is not only homeschooling the very young sons and most of the daughters (but not the third caste daughters, who are often kept illiterate), but also with the reproductive heavy lifting. It is a difficult and tiring life at best.

When she’s accused of murder, there’s all she can do to keep it together. Confused and frightened, she’s about ready to resign herself to an unfair, unjust, and cruel fate, when others step in.

Relationships

Mistra’s only known relationship is with her husband, Arnis.

Mirror Universe

I have never written Mirror Universe Daranaeans, but the idea is an interesting one.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | MU Mistra | German Shepherd Dog
MU Mistra (image of a German Shepherd Dog is for educational purposes only)

Would the women be in charge there? All I have on them is Empress Hoshi complaining that their planet always smells like wet dog, plus it’s the scene of the faking of Richard Daniels‘s death. Maybe something else could come out of that. I’m not sure.

Maybe Mistra’s intelligence would be celebrated. Maybe she’d even have some confidence.

Quote

“Arnis! Please! I am, am, I am innocent!”

Upshot

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Recurrent Themes – Plant Lovers

Recurrent Themes – Plant Lovers

Background

Botanists and plant lovers are canon. In the original Star Trek series, Sulu and Rand both attend to plants. Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Plant Lovers In The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, Keiko Ishikawa O’Brien is a Botanist.

For an older ship like the NX-01, I felt like there absolutely had to be a Botanist.

Appearances

Naomi Curtis

Only seen during If You Can’t Stand the Heat, I’ve retconned her and now consider her to be the first Botanist on the NX-01 Enterprise. Much like Preston Jennings is shifted over to Navigation and Lili O’Day is hired for the Xindi War, Naomi is thrown over for the better skilled and more versatile Shelby. A pity for Chef Will Slocum, as she’s an early love interest for him. But they do get to fight off the Darvellians together.

Shelby Pike

Pike is the best-realized of my botany and plant-loving characters. Her talents range from growing food crops to keeping everyone sane with flowers, colorful fruits, and other pleasant reminders of home.

Eriecho

A true gardener and homebody at heart, Eriecho grows yellow peppers. It’s at her garden patch that she and Sollastek first scandalously hold hands.

Von

Recurrent Themes – Plant LoversA Ferengi engineer at the Temporal Integrity Commission, Von is also an amateur gardener, and gives Sheilagh Bernstein a yellow tulip while she’s deciding whether to join the commission.

Michael Nolan

Gina Nolan‘s late husband is in his Beijing lab, studying Bajoran dicotyledons, when he’s killed during the Breen attack on Earth.

Other Characters

The Hayes family and the Warren family farm during Concord, but that’s more a matter of survival and economics rather than study. Many of the Daranaean women also garden, and in particular they will grow Krivian weed, which is shaped into a type of boxwood-style hedge. But that’s not just for beauty’s sake; Krivian weed can be chewed in order to determine the gender of a fetus a pregnant woman is carrying. In the E2 timeline, Esilia and the other Ikaaran women farm as a part of their obligation to their government.

Upshot

They may have their heads in the stars, but their feet are on the ground; they’re the gardeners, Botanists, farmers, and plant lovers of Star Trek.

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Portrait of a Character – D’Storlin

Portrait of a Character – D’Storlin

D’Storlin has troubles.

Origins

Spock was always such an incredibly well-adjusted person, given his circumstances and birth. And I always felt that that made little sense. Even with a genius IQ and half-Vulcan blood, I always figured it would make infinitely more sense for him to have been more unhinged. Enter D’Storlin.

Portrayal

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | D’Storlin | DStorlin
D’Storlin

I see the actor Vincent Kartheiser in this role.

He’s got somewhat interesting credentials, including Mad Men and time on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff, Angel.

I like that he’s got a background of playing weaselly characters. Because D’Storlin has major issues.

Personality

Penitent, but with a hot temper and a lack of patience, D’Storlin is angry at the world. And it is for how a dead baby crocodile is treated in his Biology class (the animal is a subject for dissection).

Relationships

D’Storlin has no known relationships.

Mirror Universe

I don’t have a Mirror Universe counterpart for D’Storlin, but there are no impediments to his existence.

Portrait of a Character – D’Storlin
Vincent Kartheiser as Mirror D’Storlin

For what he did to John, he wouldn’t be sent to a school for troubled children. Instead, he’d get a promotion.

Quote

“I see the egg tooth, you know, the one you use to get outta the shell? I don’t remember coming out of the shell, of course, but I remember seeing my little sister – she and I weren’t in the same clutch. {and} I remember seeing her struggle and struggle but she finally made it and my parents and my clutch brothers and sisters, we all cheered. And then we had hamburgers, I remember. Funny, the things you remember.”

Upshot

I like this creepy character, but I do not know where to put him next.

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Review – Red

Review – Red

Red plays on the color and on Norri’s hair. Because this character has the least amount of development of all of the main characters in the In Between Days series (even Pamela Hudson has more depth and detail to her), it works to give Norri her due. And, again, the title plays on words as well, putting the color together with mortification.

Background

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Norri | Red
Norri D’Giorno

Hence for a prompt about embarrassment, I went with not only the color of your face but the color of Norri Digiorno‘s hair.

I had some hints about the first meeting between her and Melissa Madden in Fortune, but had not written it. The opportunity presented itself on a silver platter, so I went ahead with this sweet little story about love at first sight.

Plot

As Norri vacations on Ceres just after graduating from Oklahoma State with a BA in English Literature, pilot Melissa hangs out at a hotel bar with her pilot friends.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Norri| Red
Norri

So Norri is checking out Melissa, big time. Melissa is playing it a little cooler. Finally, when Melissa’s friends leave, she crooks her finger just once, and Norri comes running. And, as Norri herself says on her deathbed in Fortune, she (Norri) never left. This love, much like the loves throughout the family and the series, is eternal. She really means forever.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

It was an irresistible story to write, to get these two crazy kids together for the first time. For the main characters of In Between Days, their first meeting and first ‘date’ are the most normal.

This one was a joy to write, and hopefully readers find it a joy to read as well.

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Portrait of a Character – Ingrid Nyqvist

Portrait of a Character – Ingrid Nyqvist

Portrait of a Character – Ingrid Nyqvist
MyAnna Buring as Ingrid Nyqvist

I liked the idea of having another super light-colored woman on the NX-01, someone who would very superficially resemble Lili. Because Lili is selected by the Calafans in the Prime Timeline, there is some reason or another why Ingrid, who looks even more like I think Calafans should, is not selected.

The easiest explanations are either that she is gone from the ship after the return from the Delphic Expanse (which is what happens to Quartermaster Sekar Khan), or she is not psionically gifted and, therefore, is not seen as suitable by the Calafans. I think I prefer the latter explanation although I haven’t had an occasion to test or explain either hypothesis in my Star Trek fan fiction.

Origins

Because Malcolm seems to prefer blondes, I hard-wire that as a preference for him, particularly for the stories based on the E2 episode. As he and Lili circle each other (and she also circles Jay), Malcolm does consider Ingrid as a possible mate, except he really doesn’t know her at all.

Portrayal

I liked the idea of a Scandinavian actress, so I selected MyAnna Buring, who has been on Doctor Who.

Personality

Mainly withdrawn and private, Ingrid isn’t well-known. I don’t cover her life too closely, like I do with tertiary characters like Meredith Porter. Instead, Ingrid’s main event happens during The Three of Us.

Going after Lucas Donnelly initially, Ingrid is a bit disappointed to learn that he’s gay. However, in order to help out his roommate, Mark Reilly, Luke tells a fib, and claims that Mark is unusually well-endowed. The hype gets Ingrid interested, but also Sandra and other women like them, like Kate Shelton and Colleen Romanov. With sexual tension running high in the ship, the women physically attack each other, thereby starting a small riot in the Observation Lounge. Beyond the obvious disciplinary issue, this also gives the single men an opportunity to intervene. Sometimes this is to try to break things up, but it’s also an excuse to grope the women a bit.

Relationships

Mark Reilly

In the first kick back in time, after the riot, they end up together. Despite the fact that Mark cannot live up to the hype, she still selects him.

Robert Slater

In the second kick back in time, Ingrid and Victoria Dietrich switch, and she instead marries Robert. This is somewhat to her advantage, as Mark dies young in the second temporal displacement.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – Ingrid Nyqvist
Mirror Ingrid

There are no impediments to Ingrid existing in the Mirror.

I write Mirror Universe women as mainly being suppressed, so Ingrid probably would be, as well. A gentle discipline such as stellar cartography would only be useful in the context of preparations for conquest and war, but the Empress Hoshi Sato would likely not want such an attractive potential rival on board. But it’s unlikely that the ISS Defiant, the technologically advanced flagship of the Terran fleet, would be used for mapping missions. Hence perhaps Ingrid would be on a different ship, working the same job, but for the greater glory of the Empire.

Quote

“I saw him first!”

Upshot

The character is admittedly a bit of a cipher. The idea of a second Terran Empire ship, working as a means of clearing the way for the Empress, is a decent idea, and perhaps I will explore it in the future.

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Review – Dishing it Out

Review – Dishing it Out

Dishing it out is a crossover.

Background

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Lili| Naomi Watts | pregnant | Dishing it Out
Lili (image of a pregnant Naomi Watts is for educational purposes only)

False Bill and I wanted to put together a funny crossover story where both of our universes could collide.

Complicating matters was the fact that his chef character, the Caitian Naurr, disappears during the Romulan War in his fan fiction.

Therefore, there were some temporal limitations. This required that Lili be pregnant with Joss, but it also gave us an idea about temporal shenanigans.

Plot

Three storylines occur at what, to the reader, is the same time and place. But the reality is that they cover three separate years and two universes.  In one storyline, the Mirror Universe version of Erika Hernandez works as a chef for the Empress Hoshi Sato. Hoshi is mulling over her next conquests and angry about the food on the ISS Defiant. In 2158, a very pregnant Lili, along with Naurr, is cooking at Reversal. Doug tells her to take it easy, and some of the interplay between them foreshadows later issues in Together and Fortune.  The third storyline is in the deeper future, in the HG Wells timeline, as Rick Daniels, Carmen Calavicci, Otra D’Angelo, HD Avery, Levi Cavendish, and Kevin O’Connor all celebrate at a year-end banquet with some of their mirror counterparts, which are characters created by False Bill.

A dispute and a small prank pushes one of False Bill’s characters to send unauthorized cookbooks to Empress Hoshi’s time period. But the temporal transporters are only working to send people forward in time but not back! What to do?

Send in the chefs!

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I like how the threads came together. We also had a  lot of comedic fun with the story, adding an invading mouse army and a bit of slapstick humor. Others agreed, and it won the crossover challenge during the 2014 Twelve Trials of Triskelion on Ad Astra.

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