All posts by jespah

Shuttlepod pilot, fan fiction writer, sentient marsupial canid.

Spotlight on Original Drug – Tricoulamine

Origins

(229/365) Daily injection
(229/365) Daily injection (Photo credit: Sarah G…)

In my Star Trek fanfiction, Tricoulamine started off as a kind of garden-variety nerve toxin. It’s meant to be, in some ways, what a criminal would get as a lethal injection. Or it’s like the cyanide pills that you see in spy movies.

As I progressed with writing fan fiction, I found it was useful for a few other purposes. For one thing, it comes in several forms. For humans, it’s either in tablet or injected form. For Klingons – and it’s not fatal to them; it just knocks them out – it’s a sand-colored gas. For Calafans, it occurs naturally in their environment, and is meant to be akin to a form of cyanide being found in peach pits.

Formats

It first shows up in Reversal (injectible form), then in Intolerance (gas), then in Temper (naturally occurring), then in Fortune (tablet), then in Escape and The Point is Probably Moot (both times, it’s a tablet. Escape contains a missing scene from The Point). In Fortune and The Point, it’s understood that it is particularly difficult to get if you’re not a physician. However, since it occurs naturally in the environment of the Lafa System, if humans settle there, then there is the potential for people to obtain it without a prescription.

The name is, in part, meant to reflect the poisoned grain from The Trouble With Tribbles episode for TOS, quadrotriticale.

Effects

For Klingons, it just knocks them out, and is not harmful. It’s unclear how long the unconscious state lasts. In Intolerance, the Klingons are out for a few days or so, but they are already in a weakened state, so it’s unclear.

For humans, it hits your digestive tract or bloodstream and you’re a goner. Fortunately, it’s fast enough that there is little to no pain. In Temper, a human victim of tricoulamine poisoning appeared to be sleeping.

It is unknown how it affects other species, and since it occurs naturally in their environment, it’s possible that it doesn’t affect Calafans at all.

Pronunciation Guide

It can be pronounced as either tri-coo-la-meen or tri-coh-la-meen.

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Portrait of a Character – Leonora (Norri) Digiorno

Portrait of a Character – Leonora (Norri) Digiorno

All characters are me, and I am all characters.

At least, that is, when it comes to the originals. And when it comes to Star Trek canon, there are plenty of things that I add, so those additions are me, too.

Roots

Norri was kicking around for a few years, even before I started writing Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction, which was back in April of 2005. Actually, it was just her first name. She was originally, actually, a kind of foundling, a girl from medieval times who was orphaned by the Black Death and saved (from a bear – hey, I like Shakespeare) by being plucked out for a time travel purpose. I modified the time travel series quite a bit in order to create a series of stories called Times of the HG Wells, but I brought Norri in earlier, for the In Between Days series, although she is seen a little during the Wells series. Confused yet?

I hadn’t originally written her as a lesbian, either, but the idea presented itself because I was looking for a parallel to a day/night concept that I had going on. The In Between Days series gives its main characters active nighttime lives (through the dream state) which are almost as important as their daylight lives. To really bring the point home, I created a bi character, Melissa Madden. But Melissa needed a lesbian lover in order to pull it all off, so Norri emerged.

Symbolism

Portrait of a Character - Leonora (Norri) Digiorno
Alyson Hannigan at a celebration of the 100th …

Norri is the most literary of the main characters in the In Between Days series, starting off as a book editor, eventually getting her PhD and writing a book of her own. At the time I was shaping her, I was working for a book publisher, so she partly evolved from that. Her last name, of course, means “of the day”, so she is not only an embodiment of daytime, she also parallels main character Lili O’Day (who is also “of the day”). Furthermore, five of the six main characters (everyone but Pamela Hudson) are associated with elements. Norri is outside of what we might think of as the four traditional “elements”, and so hers is the Hindu fifth element – communications (sometimes called the ether or the void, which makes sense in space).

Visualization

Portrait of a Character - Leonora (Norri) Digiorno
Alyson Hannigan as a Young Norri

It was important for me to see Norri as being “played” by an actress who has played at least one gay character already. I also wanted her to be young but wise beyond her years, and to be redheaded. This brought me to the idea of Alyson Hannigan.

Background

I also liked the idea of Norri being someone who is somewhat remote. Of all of the main characters in the In Between Days series, you learn the least about her, and that’s by design. Of the five big books in that series, Temper and Fortune have the most information about her, and even then she’s really just a sketch.

She even gets a second nickname which is a misnomer. Malcolm refers to her as “Lioness” or “the Lioness”, when the truth is that her name means “light”. So she’s a kind of double light/daytime character.

Personality

As a person, she is forced to rise to the occasion and commit some forms of self-sacrifice several times, whether it’s to become Neil’s sole caregiver in Temper, or to shepherd children away so that various couples can have their privacy. But she gets her due, and is the final commenter and recordkeeper when it comes to the lives of the principal characters in the In Between Days series.

Her sexuality is rarely at issue. She acknowledges that she was very aware of it certainly by the time she graduated from college, but that her parents were wary of it, and her father hoped she would grow out of it (this is explored in An Announcement). Of course, that doesn’t happen. Her scenes with Melissa are meant to be as intimate as those between the straight couples. Norri also begins her romance more conventionally than most of the others do – she meets Melissa in a bar.

Mirror Universe

Norri is barely seen in the MU, save for her death, which is particularly senseless.

Alyson Hannigan
Alyson Hannigan (Photo credit: Jessica Finson)

Her murder is recalled, somewhat remorsefully, in Bread.

Music

Not every character has a musical theme, but Norri does. As might be expected, it’s Elvis Costello’s “Every Day I Write the Book”.

Quote

“It’s not necessarily unfair. You’d be sleeping. Everybody sleeps. I can’t get into your dreams. All that’s changing now, really, is that I know, more or less, what those dreams are. But you and I, we have the big thing, the big love.”

Upshot

Book smart and funny, Norri is the essence of communication, holding everyone together, and making everything spin.

Portrait of a Character - Leonora (Norri) Digiorno
Norri at the start of the arrangement

Progress Report – January 2012

This is the first progress report, but I’ll only go into what was done this month. Going into the gory details of everything that I’ve posted or drafted up until now would just be tedious. It can always be found through my own site.

Posted Works

On Ad Astra, I posted nearly all of Fortune (except for the Afterword, plus a few chapters from before the start of the new year) and also posted the response to the Pathways challenge, Paving Stones Made from Good Intentions. I was pleasantly shocked to eke out a come from behind victory. This is my first win (and the fourth challenge I had entered on Ad Astra). The story will be featured and I get to choose the February challenge topic. I was particularly proud of this because (a) it was a difficult group of entries and (b) it features my original character, Doug, at an early stage of his life. The story works as a prequel to Reversal.

I also responded to some weekly free writes. For the TGIF prompt, I released Friday Visit, which is a kind of prequel to Together. For the AWOL prompt, I wrote Demotion, which is a prequel to three works that are still in rather early stages, and are based on the E2 episode. This ficlet is also a missing scene from the Hatchery episode. The Politics prompt brought forth a ficlet called Debate, which is a prequel to the next Daranaean story, currently in progress.

Meanwhile, on TrekBBS, I added several pieces. Currently, Reversal (the PG-13 rated version) is being spun out. I also responded to their New Beginning challenge, with Coveted Commodity. Voting is up; I have voted there, too. Thanks to all voters.

On Fanfiction.net, I added Waiting and am currently spinning out the PG-13 rated version of Reversal. On that site, because I can upload documents, I am posting small uploads of three chapters at a time, so the posting there of Reversal is often behind what’s happening on TrekBBS.

I did not add any long works to TrekEmpire, as I am waiting to see if the word limit for posts can be increased. Right now, it’s rather low, and this would make it difficult to post a story like Reversal, which is over 30 chapters long. I added It Had to Be You, as it’s a short one-off, and it takes place in the mirror universe.

Finally, I got TrekUnited a bit caught up with some of my one-offs and smaller stories. Dear Captain was very well received. I also posted Apple.

WIP Corner

Right now, I am working on E2 stories. There are going to be three books, and I have a good 90% or more drafted of the first one. The second one has a few chapters but is stalling a little. I’ll play with it more when inspiration strikes. I also have a Daranaean story which, unfortunately, has also stalled. I wrote Debate as a prequel to it, hoping that it would nudge me to do more. So far, nothing yet. I also have an Interphases story which I haven’t touched in a while. That’s one of these stories where I roared through the beginning, know the ending, more or less, and can’t figure out how to connect the two. I’ve found that sometimes it helps to just go ahead and write the ending or at least draft it and then fill in the middle. That may be what I do with the Daranaean story as well.

I’m also drafting blog posts, and that’s interfering just a little bit with writing fiction. But I’ve also found that writing begets writing. Something will push through this little blockage and I’ll be typing away madly soon enough.

Prep Work

There are some things that I do that aren’t writing but are related. I converted A Long, Long Time Ago to HTML formatting and created an Ad Astra series called Times of the HG Wells. I also played around with Gimp to see if I could make a slide show about In Between Days. I think it was all right for a first go, but it was a large file and the slides went by a bit too quickly, plus I need to adjust placement a bit. I’m really not a visual artist, so everything I do with visuals ends up being a struggle, but I try.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

My contract was not renewed, so I’m hunting for work again. There’s always a big push so I am actively doing that. I’m also laying the groundwork for my taxes, but I don’t have all the materials yet. I’ll probably finish them in February or March. The filing date will depend upon whether a refund is in store (doubtful) or we have to pay.

Another thing about being at home is the phone/outside noises. Even with a space heater going (and providing white noise) and the windows and storm windows all closed, I can still hear occasional jackhammering outside. This, plus a ringing phone (and I have to get up to answer it, as it could be career stuff) tends to make me lose my train of thought. Walking helps to get it back, and then I need to transcribe it. This process tends to work for me, where I think and type, then go out walking, come up with some more ideas and then record them later in the day. I don’t measure progress by number of words, as I place a value on economy of words, but I do try to crank out some pages, at least in draft form, mainly to see where I am with things. Currently, page production is down a bit. I am also working out plot ideas in my head, so some things are not being written, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t being worked on.

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Introduction, Ground Work and Housekeeping

There are any number of things for me to write about, but I am going to concentrate on my own fiction. This is mainly because I know it, of course, and also because I am, in many ways, my own worst critic. I can look at entries from a year or more ago and cringe. But I guess I go on.

Where everything is

I tend to post most of my works in Trek United before anywhere else. This is partly because that’s where I first posted fan fiction, so I have a history there, and also because they were and are very encouraging. However, I often find myself going back to older works and tweaking them when I post them elsewhere. Sometimes it’s to better dovetail with canon. Other times, it’s to dovetail with fanfiction – that is, my own universe and my own overarching storylines. After all, if character X is dead in 2157, and in an earlier work, he’s alive during that same time period for some reason, I may switch that up, if it doesn’t destroy the integrity of the older work. One thing that might be of amusement is that there is a rather strong profanity filter there. I have found I’ve had to get creative with synonyms. I have kept this – I suppose I’m used to it now – when describing what are sometimes very intimate scenes.

More earthy stuff can be posted at Trek Empire, but I haven’t yet used it for that, not really. I have plenty of earthy material. More (much, much more) on that later. I just haven’t done much at TE, as of this writing. I also have two drabbles at The Delphic Expanse.

Another place with my work is Trek BBS. So far, I’ve only really scratched the surface there. Yet another spot is Fanfiction.net. Because uploading is permitted there, I’ve taken to posting three chapters at a time when I’m spinning out longer works. For both of these locations, I have felt the need to somewhat bowdlerize my work, so it’s been the opposite of Trek Empire.

Much more polished works are generally found at Ad Astra (they are also the sponsors of this blog, so I thank them for setting it up). I also like the formatting there, and the critiquing system. It just seems to work out better for most of my fan fic publishing needs.

I also have some works on Issuu, under the Trek United imprimatur. Two of my works there, Reversal and Intolerance, are rated Mature, so they are not searchable that way. I like Issuu for how the covers look with the overall layout of the works, but the longer works are also on Ad Astra and have been updated since their publication on Issuu.

Another venue for my work is Merknet. Richard Merk has converted the two longer Issuu creations to Kindle and Nook formats. So you can download those two to your e-reader, if you’d like!

For the most part, when I reference a work, I’ll be referencing Ad Astra. The best and most current versions are pretty much all there, and it’s also for consistency’s sake. If I need to cite a work where the rating has been toned down, I’ll most likely point to Fanfiction.net.

Ratings

The ratings are all over the place. Some, like The Light, are rated for everyone and could be read to your grandmother without concern. Others, like Paving Stones Made from Good Intentions, are rated for everyone but should make you uncomfortable. Still others go up the ratings ladder, eventually to Intolerance, which is M, possibly M in some spots, depending on how you feel about explicit acts being referred to somewhat obliquely.

As with anything else in life, discretion is advised. But I don’t try to play a gotcha game with ratings, particularly those for children or teens. I think that most if not all of those can be considered as safe for work.

Spoilers

Every now and then, I may reveal something that turns out to be a spoiler. I don’t, honestly, expect anyone to have read all of my stuff or, even if they have, that they remember every syllable of it. But I am going to write here about writing, and sometimes that will mean discussing something that could turn out to feel like a revelation. I won’t use spoiler code.

What this blog is really going to be about

  • I’ll cover reviewing my own work, and will likely reveal things you might have overlooked, about what I’m really trying to say, or how well (or poorly) I think I accomplished what I set out to do.
  • I will talk about characters, both canon and original, and will provide pictures for any character where I have an idea of that person’s overall look. I am not so arrogant as to think that what I am writing will be acted by professionals. The pictures are for fun, and to give you an idea of what’s in my head – who do I really see? You may see someone else. Feel free to tell me in the comments section. Perhaps I’ll change my mind. This area will be huge – I tend to do the sprawling Dickensian thing, so I quite literally have a few hundred people to talk about.
  • I will spotlight original technology and concepts, everything from drugs to sports to original species and their characteristics.
  • I’ll also give a progress report, probably at the end of every month, giving an idea of what I’ve done, and what’s on the horizon. This will help to keep me accountable, but I don’t promise anything. Life does intervene at times, of course.
  • I will give you a look inside my creative process, including the kinds of things that inspire me.
  • Plus whatever strikes my fancy.

Schedule

I won’t really adhere to a strict blogging schedule but I will try to get something out twice a week. That may change – life and inspiration and time don’t always combine to create the perfect storm allowing me to keep regular blogging hours. I’ll do what I can.

Other blogs

This is not my first rodeo. I also blog on health, diet and fitness, robotics, career changing and even did a guest stint for Trek United’s Twelve Days of Christmas blog, writing about Adult Trek.

About Me

I’m a woman, born in New Jersey (in 1962) but raised in Pennsylvania and then New York. I attended college in Boston and then Law School in Delaware, and practiced law for a few years in New York until I ran screaming from that life. I met my husband in the late 1980s and we married in 1992. We moved to Providence for work and then to Boston in 1995 and have never looked back.

I currently work in IT, and have a background in corporate training, business analysis, data analysis, community management and social media marketing. I don’t believe in limiting myself or pigeonholing myself. I’ve worked in all sorts of places, from a tiny startup that could fit in my car to a Fortune 50 company.

We have no kids. We’ve had dogs four times – no dogs right now as there is just no time and it wouldn’t be fair. But I do love to see my neighbors’ furry friends, and I will stop and pet pretty much any dog I see, all while playing “guess the breed”. I walk almost every day and run over ten 5K races per year. I am almost always last. Everyone cheers because, I know, they realize that they can finally eat and get their prizes.

I am Jewish but I am pretty lapsed. I do a lot of things that a lot of my characters like to do, such as cook, garden and fish. If I were an ENT character, I’d probably be a cross between Reed and Sato. Reed for his organized competence (at least I like to think that’s what I’m like), and Sato for her fears and hesitations (I know I’m like that). It’s no mystery to me why I tend to write them more than all of the other canon ENT characters (and not in a relationship together, by the way).

And, that’s it!

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Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction

Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction

Come on in, and sit down.

I’ve got a lot to say.

Jespah 2010
Jespah 2012

This blog is going to be about fan fiction, of the Star Trek kind, mostly Enterprise although I do branch out into the other series’ and the films’ universes on occasion. But my main focus is ENT.

If you don’t like fanfiction, you might want to turn back now. But if you aren’t sure, or if you think it’s just for those who can’t be creative, I urge you to consider a few things.

Fan fiction, in essence, is like an “adapted by” or “based on” credit in the movies or on television. Sure, it’s not 100%, absolutely, completely, utterly, blisteringly, breathtakingly original. But that “adapted by” credit? Let’s see where else it is, or where it should be, shall we?

Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction

How about West Side Story, for starters? And they didn’t even credit the original author! Instead, playwright Jerome Robbins and writers Ernest Lehman and Arthur Laurents are shown. Funny how William Shakespeare isn’t listed, eh? Well, I guess the Bard didn’t have a very good agent. Take a look here if you don’t believe me.

Or what about Ten Things I Hate About You? Oh, there’s another one with no credit for poor ole Will. Instead, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith get the nod. Check ‘em out here.

Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction

Willie the Shake isn’t the only writer who gets short shrift with adaptations. What about Clueless? Amy Heckerling is the only credited writer. If I were Jane Austen, I’d be a little peeved, seeing as it’s based on Emma. Don’t believe me? Take a gander here.

There are countless vampire film and television adaptations, copies and suggestions – they don’t all mention Bram Stoker. Twilight certainly doesn’t mention the father of the vampire genre, although it does give credit to Melissa Rosenberg and Stephenie Meyer. Check it out.

At least Charles Dickens gets a “suggestion” credit for Scrooged, but the real billing is left for Mitch Glazer and Michael O’Donoghue. See the list of Scrooged writers.

Of course English writers are not the only ones out there who are hit up for adaptations, suggestions and the like, and English language films aren’t the only adapters, but at least Shakespeare gets a mention in Ran, along with Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni and Masato Ide. Perhaps it’s the Eastern cultural imperative to respect one’s ancestors at work here.

Here’s a film based on a Spanish poem – El Cid. And, you may have guessed it, no credit for the original author, believed to be Per Abbad, but plenty of credit for Fredric M. Frank, Philip Yordan and Ben Barzman. Take a look at the list of El Cid writers.

And then there’s The Wind Done Gone and other parallel novels, which use other books’ scenarios as their own. See Wikipedia for a list.

What’s the point of all of this research?

The bottom line is that fan fiction isn’t significantly different. It’s a cousin, if you will, to adapted screenplays, suggested stories and parallel novelizations. Plenty of perfectly wonderful and respected works of art, from the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to the book Grendel are all, truly, based on someone else’s universe.

Do you accept those other works? Do you eagerly stand in line for tickets to Wicked, or watch the Clueless TV program in reruns, or read Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea? Then, my friend, you are a consumer of art that is quite similar to fan fiction. Why embrace one and find fault with the other?

Come with me, and explore, what it means to be human – or Vulcan, or Denobulan or even an original species like Daranaean, or Calafan or Witannen or others – in a vast, unfamiliar place, where death can haunt every light-year or love and friendship might just be around the next bend in the corridor or a lift or transport ride away. Come and explore the outer, the other and the new and strange, but also the familiar and homelike part we all have in us.

Writing is not an activity solely the province of those who are paid any more than imagination solely belongs to those who create for a living. Come and see what I have wrought, and where I am taking things and, frankly, where characters and planets and storylines and events are taking me.

I open my door to you, and am turning on the light, for you to see into my worlds.