All posts by jespah

Shuttlepod pilot, fan fiction writer, sentient marsupial canid.

Review – The All-Stars

Review – The All-Stars

The All-Stars introduces the Barnstorming series.
The All-Stars

Background

First of all, the All-Stars was intended as the kickoff for the Barnstorming series. And that series would also hold Crackerjack and The Future Cat under its umbrella. Hence, I plotted it as a sprawling series. Except it suffered from an excess of plot and subplots and complications, even worse than the Times of the HG Wells series. And I should have known better! Seriously. Because the middle of the Wells series was hard for me to write, and some it drags a bit. Stories I had really thought about got short shrift. And the same ended up being true for Barnstorming.

Plot

It was a time for new beginnings, for a woman who had over half of her adult life stolen and for her cousin, a new job and new challenges. And this promised a new life for a young man with few plans and no real direction. Furthermore, it was a chance for three women to change their lives, and for fifty athletes to do something new. And there was a secret project by Section 31 that threatened to break a treaty and had the potential to open up a portal to another universe while someone out there – whose intentions were unknown – was trying to get in.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

While the story resolves itself pretty well and the characters make sense, the story leads to a series which ends up going nowhere. Although I did write the immediate sequel, Play, that story has never been posted anywhere (if I end up really scraping the bottom of the barrel at Wattpad, then maybe I will haul it out; the same might end up as true for Fanfiction.net). And then the following stories never really get off the ground at all. A pity; the concept is a decent one but I just ran out of gas there.

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Focus – Time Ships (Fan fiction)

Focus on Time Ships

Time Ships are fascinating, and exist within canon.
Time Ships

Focus

A focus Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Focus Magnifying Glass Time Ships (unlike a spotlight) provides an in-depth look at a Star Trek fan fiction canon item and my twist(s) on it.

Of course, all of fan fiction is like that, but the idea here is to provide a window into how a single canon concept can exist within in fan fiction.

Background

Instantaneous temporal transportation generally does not make for good drama. And this also points out the problems with transporters: when it’s easy to save someone’s bacon, the drama suffers. Furthermore, it’s possible that writers just plain didn’t want to go in that direction. And they don’t, until Enterprise and Crewman Daniels with his time portals.

Occurrences

To add some fun to the HG Wells series, I had engineer Deirdre Katzman name all the ships after old time travel fiction. Hence the ships are as follows:

    • Audrey Niffenegger

– the first of the ships is manhandled by Rick; the name comes from the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife.

    • HG Wells

– this ship replaces Audrey.

    • Jack Finney

Tom Grant gets this one. Jack Finney wrote Time and Again.

    • Flux Capacitor

Sheilagh Bernstein gets this ship.

    • Elise McKenna/Simon Morley

– these ships are counterparts in our and the mirror universes. The Elise McKenna never gets built. Both get their names from character in Time And Again.

    • Audrey II

– Deirdre has a wicked sense of humor and, while this ship is intended to replace Audrey, the name refers to Little Shop of Horrors.

Upshot

Ships mean drama, as fuel can run out, they can suffer attacks or breakdowns, and enemies can steal them. Hence I rarely use time portals in my fan fiction.

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Review – Storm Clouds

Review – Storm Clouds

Storm Clouds gather and the multiverse experiences threats.
Storm Clouds

Background

First of all, Storm Clouds began as a round robin style story which never got to the finish line. However, I introduced Kevin O’Connor and Crystal Sherwood to a larger audience. And while they did not become beloved until right about the time of Multiverse II, at least readers would have some passing familiarity with them. Hence the story did serve a purpose although at the time it felt an awful lot like a failure. And it still, more or less, does. Since round robin stories, by definition, should sprawl and go on for a while, it stinks when a round robin collapses in short order. And one of the reasons, most likely, ended up being that no one other than me really knew what went on in my characters’ heads.

Plot

During the time period covered in You Mixed-Up Siciliano, Kevin O’Connor and Crystal Sherwood go to lunch but end up … elsewhere. This Round Robin story includes other participants.

Because Storm Clouds did not go that far, the plot did not emerge too forcefully or well. However, the characters did assemble, and I did get a chance to have Kevin mention Josie.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

As a preliminary kind of story to the better round robin affair, Multiverse II, this story suffers because the characters I introduced had no history with the other writers. Kevin did get some love; I think people could relate to his loneliness and his bereavement. However, Crystal did not fare as well. Furthermore, they both paled considerably when compared to the wacky and complicated charms of Otra D’Angelo, Levi Cavendish, and Branch Borodin.

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Portrait of a Character – The Traveler

Portrait of a Character – The Traveler

The Traveler got me out of some time travel jams.

The Traveler
Eric Menyuk as The Traveler (with Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher). Image is provided for educational purposes only.

Origins

While the character exists in canon, the best part about him is he can be a kind of deus ex machina plot device. And unlike Q, the Traveler at least ends up being a fairly nice guy.

Portrayal

As in canon, The Traveler is played by actor Eric Menyuk.

Personality

Wildly intelligent, but a little stiff, the Traveler recognizes that Wesley Crusher has exceptional potential. However, as I write him, he and Wesley are friends and almost collegial. Furthermore, when the Traveler sees Wesley misses his fellow humans, Wesley isn’t forced to stay.

Relationships

The Traveler has no known relationships, and may not even be capable of one.

Mirror Universe

Because this particular character does not seem to be 100% from our universe, I suspect he flits between the two all the time. And he may even go to other universes, such as the 49 centimeter radiation band (home of the best pumpkin pie in the multiverse!).

Quote

“All three of you have learned something. And for that, I am only grateful that I was the catalyst. Your species has much to learn about pain and conflict. You must never forget its horrors. You must never escape into pretend horrors as if they were thrills for your own amusement.  [and] You must, sometimes, rise up from your comfortable lives and bring suffering to the forefront. You must remember it so that you do not commit it. [and] You must not forget its true costs.”

Upshot

Finally, this character proved useful for Day of the Dead and Imprecision. I can’t recall, but I may have been planning on adding him to the Barnstorming series as well.

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Review – Staying

Review – Staying

Staying came about because I wanted to showcase the Barnstorming series.

Staying

Background

First of all, Staying arose directly out of The All Stars and served as a prompt response. This happened in an effort to get readers interested in the longer story.

Plot

Because I never intended Staying as a stand alone story, the plot ends up being rather thin. Instead, it showcases Mack MacKenzie and Kent Hoberman in an intimate moment which perhaps never should have happened. Since I liked the idea of a traumatized woman crying after sex (I suppose I have a heart of stone; of course I just mean a character), I reused the idea in the wholly original novel, The Polymer Beat.

Furthermore, the intention pushed the narrative along so that Mack would not have trauma with her true love (still not written yet!), canon character Martin Madden.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

While the story could have served as a decent introduction to the series, the readers really did not pick up on it. Read counts stayed low. And it can be tough to try to maintain and reinvent and continue a series where few if any people bother to read it. Hence the series is on hold and there are stories never even posted anywhere. If I pick it up again, I will need to finish those stories and that seems highly unlikely, given my schedule, my interest, and my desire to save my creativity for wholly original pursuits.

A pity, as I like Mack, Hobie, and Martin and their cohorts. They just came into my universe at the wrong time. Hence they may stay, forever (ish) in limbo. Sorry, characters!

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Portrait of a Character – Crita

Portrait of a Character – Crita

Crita, another female Daranaean artist character, should remind the reader of Inta II.

Crita

Origins

Because I love the Daranaeans so much, I wanted to bring at least one into the new Barnstorming series. Crita also carries through the idea of Inta II. Crita, being born later, has more independence.

Portrayal

Crita, unlike most Daranaean characters, has an attached actor (because she has so much screen time). So she is played by actress Mary-Kate Olsen.

Personality

A bit slight and timid, Crita still ends up being one of the more assertive female Daranaean characters I have ever written. And that is by design. Crita’s main advantage comes from being born later than Inta II, etc. Crita has experienced a Daranaean alliance with the United Federation of Planets her entire life. Hence she has always had the right to vote, for example.

Relationships

Senjarus

Much like happens with arranged marriages today, I wanted the character to have a limited choice of suitors but at least not just have one foisted upon her. Her overly eager parents would want a good match for her, and one part of that would be wealth. Of the three suitors, Senjarus does not win the wealth sweepstakes. Instead, she chooses him because he seems to value her artwork in a way that his two competitors simply do not.

Mirror Universe

There are no impediments to this character existing in the Mirror. Daranaeans don’t have the Y Chromosome Skew, but she probably would not be treated any better.

Quote

“I do. It’s probably got more to do with me being unmarried than anything else. Daranaean men aren’t generally fond of third caste females who are anything but submissive all the time.”

Upshot

Because the Barnstorming series is on hold, and it doesn’t look like I will ever finish it, poor Crita has been more or less abandoned. And that’s unfortunate, as I do like the little puppy girl.

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Review – Soldiers’ Marriage Project

Review – Soldiers’ Marriage Project

Soldiers' Marriage Project
Soldiers’ Marriage Project, an early effort, showed me how well I can change the tone of a narrative.

Background

First of all, Soldiers’ Marriage Project came about so as to add a bit of romance to the Romulan war. The idea borrowed a lot from the standard ‘soldier going off to war’ narrative. As a result, a slight World War II vibe attaches to the piece.

Plot

Hence in Soldiers’ Marriage Project, a group of soldiers get married, all at the same time. My inspiration came from the old Unification Church mass weddings. As a result, this story marked the first appearance of Rona Moran, who plays a prominent role in Flight of the Bluebird. Because she helps to finance (and raise even more money for) this massive effort.

As for the soldiers mentioned by her in her report, neither of them make it to anywhere else in my fan fiction. I just wanted them to be archetypes, somewhat similar to how Rona herself treated the story line. Hence the couple don’t really have faces or descriptions (the above image mainly serves as a placeholder for this blog post).

Music

The music is Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

While I like this story, I had virtually no control over the final product and the direction of the overall anthology. Hence, there could have been more done with it. Alas, such was not to be! However, that might not be so bad, as the couple remain a mystery and Rona comes across as her usual wacky yet ultimately extremely well meaning self. And that foreshadows later stories nicely.

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Progress Report – August 2017

Progress Report – August 2017

August 2017 was another slow month. Heat, plus an incredibly busy month working as a freelancer, meant I did little but work and sweat! At least, that was how I saw it.

Posted Works

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | August 2017
First of all, on the G & T Show forums, I posted nothing, as the spam situation is still up in the air.

And on Fanfiction.net, I posted He Stays a Stranger. Because the HG Wells series is winding down there, I will add the Deep Future stories and then, most likely, whatever I have from Barnstorming, even without a lot of editing. Otherwise, there is not much left to go there.

Finally, on Wattpad, I started to post The Point is Probably Moot.

Milestones

See the Stats page for individual read and review counts.

WIP Corner

Right now, the only WIP is for original work. I have works going into two (maybe it’s three?) separate anthologies. Because they are at various stages of completion, and some of them have been going on for quite a while, I am not 100% certain which is which! For a cancer anthology, I wrote something new, called The Playback.

The Hub of the Universe trilogy is going very slowly. Some of that is a fleeting and fickle muse. However, it is also a direct result of my being so damn busy. I often add a line or two in writing and then fall asleep. No lie!

Prep Work

I started to create draft on Wattpad for the next story in the series, Shake Your Body.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

Work and work and more work! I was incredibly busy, which had its start back in I believe May. While it is good to have my freelance writing business taking off, it leaves very little room or time for anything else. I desperately seek balance. If anyone sees it, please return it. Thank you.

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Portrait of a Character – Q

Portrait of a Character – Q

Q, a canon character, works well for all sorts of deus ex machina.

Q
John de Lancie as Q (gif is provided for educational purposes only)

Origins

First of all, this canon character ended up helping showcase, in Fortune, some very important information. Because he gets to show just what happens to the Digiorno-Madden-Beckett-O’Day-Reed clan in the near and deep future. In addition, the vehicle ended up being the canon episode, The Q and the Grey, which I expanded significantly.

Portrayal

As in canon, Q is portrayed by actor John De Lancie.

Personality

More or less omnipotent and omniscient, Q easily becomes bored by the likes of you or me (or my characters). However, even he has limitations. As a result of needing a good plot device and a means of making him at least a little bit relatable, I made it so he won’t get into the heads of people. And in particular, that meant it took a lot of doing before Lili could convince him to allow her into Kevin Madden-Beckett’s head at the moment of that infant’s untimely death. Because the contact gets cut off, the question of whether there is life after death is not answered in Fortune, and I waited until Equinox, The Three of Us and Everybody Knows This is Nowhere to make the final determination that, yes, there is life after death.

Relationships

Q’s only known relationship is with the female Q, who I have called Joy in my fan fiction. Because Q has issues and wastes time pursuing Kathryn Janeway, I had Lili give him some help in terms of connecting with Joy.

Theme Music

While Q doesn’t really have theme music, per se, he does try to persuade Lili to show him the ways of human sex and sexuality by playing Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On, a song he describes as ‘foolproof’.

Mirror Universe

Because Q does not seem to be 100% from our universe, I suspect he flits between the two all the time. And he may go to other universes, such as the 49 centimeter radiation band.

Quote

“Oh, that’s right. You don’t know about Kevin.”

Upshot

Because this character has so many gifts, he can be hard to relate to. In addition, even in canon, I feel the writers sometimes didn’t know how to handle him. They made him obnoxious and overly obsessed with humans. Instead, I decided to give him doubts and hesitations.

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Review – Appearances

Review – Appearances

Appearances matter.
Appearances

Background

First of all, the story came about as a means of getting into Captain Sarine’s universe and his characters.

Plot

Furthermore, written for Captain Sarine and taking place in his Redemption universe, Damien gets serious about Kalara. Because issues might arise when a human writer and a Klingon officer date and then, eventually, wed. Hence, the way I wrote the story, even our future characters might have some lingering issues with mixed and interspecies marriage. And while prejudice does not exactly rear its ugly head, such is an implied back drop to the story.

Because Star Trek has always addressed social issues head on, the story could have had a real impact. I could have dealt with humans’ history with Klingons or even John Frederick Paxton’s Terra Prime. Instead, the story ended up being far too short and shallow for that kind of intelligent and introspective treatment. More’s the pity, as that would have made this story so much better.

As a permitted dip into another’s universe, the execution could have improved. However, as I recall, my time was already stretching thin. Therefore, I did not do enough research on the characters and their backgrounds. And, unfortunately, that shows.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

Because the story is so short, very little goes on. Hence the plot suffers from thinness. Furthermore, I did not know his characters that well. Hence both characters get rather sketchy and sparse treatments and the background ends up being minimal. Therefore, if I ever decided to revisit this universe and a story such as this one, it would be told with a lot more depth and a lot more obstacles for the lovers. While not every mixed relationship needs or attracts conflict, stories really do need it.

I count this one as a missed opportunity.

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