Category Archives: Fan fiction

Portrait of a Character – José Torres

Portrait of a Character – José Torres

Origins

I needed a character who would be a bit of a galoot. He would be super-tall, almost seven feet. He would be balding at an early age. In short, he would not be one of the super-beautiful people we often see on television, and not just on Star Trek. Enter José Torres.

Portrayal

Although he isn’t tall enough, I like the idea of Ian Gomez for this role.

Portrait of a Character – José Torres
Ian Gomez

I wanted someone who would not be traditionally good-looking. Oftentimes, it seems that star ships (and fanfiction stories) are larded up with an enormous number of ultra-beautiful people. Well, real life just isn’t like that. And I think that Star Trek does a bit of a disservice to its fan base (although they do try to, when appropriate, include people with different abilities). The future is not going to be chock full of 100% gorgeous folks! Someone is going to look different.

Personality

A little clumsy, but with a big heart, I wanted José to, at times, be the nice guy who finishes last. But not always, for women who peer beyond looks will see him for what he is – a kind, thoughtful and gentle soul. As an engineer, he is also an inventor and an improviser. In the E2 stories, he creates an ultrasound machine for Doctor Phlox, making it possible to tell fetal gender without having to subject women in high-risk pregnancies – such as Lili O’Day and Meredith Porter Ryan – to amniocentesis needles.

Relationships

Pamela Hudson

It’s really not fair to call this hookup a relationship. Instead, after the wedding in Together, he notices Pamela and makes his move. It’s entirely possible that, in the prime timeline, he loses his virginity to her. I haven’t decided yet.

Hoshi Sato

At the end of Fortune, he asks Hoshi out, to Movie Night (Casablanca is playing). It’s unclear whether it goes very far. Rather, the purpose of the acceptance of the date is for Tripp Tucker to overhear it.

Corda

In the third E2 story, he marries the youngest of the Ikaaran women. It is unclear what her function is on Ebrona’s ship or what the marriage is like, but her premature death is heartbreaking to José.

Lili O’Day

In Together, Lili first reveals that, during the canon E2 episode, they wed and had a daughter, Maria Elena, named after Lili’s mother, Marie Helêne Ducasse O’Day. The savvy reader should wonder – why wasn’t Lili with Malcolm or Jay?

But there are reasons for that. And so she takes up with José, who she doesn’t treat, initially, as fairly as she should. In her own defense, though, it should be noted that Lili is bereft and is dealing with an enormous number of changes in her life. But José, while he isn’t flashy, is a rock for her. And while she is settling, he feels that he is not.

Hoshi Sato

In the prime timeline, at the end of Fortune, he asks her out. He also asks her out during the third E2 book, but loses out to Sekar Khan.

Mirror Universe

Portrait of a Character – José Torres
Mirror José

José in the mirror universe is a very different animal – and animal is a good word to describe him. In Temper, Empress Hoshi reveals that, in the initial alternate timeline, he was the leader of the first wave of the invasion from the mirror universe into ours. As a result, she rewards him handsomely. First, he is promoted to Ensign. Then, she gives him three playmates – the mirror versions of Karin Bernstein, Blair Claymore, and Pamela Hudson.

By the time the Doug and Lili mission begins, José has gotten a bit tired of his three trained seals and is looking for younger women. But Karin, Blair, and Pamela are still on rather tight leashes. With his death (due to the Empress’s arrogance and his own incompetence), they are freed.

In the second alternate timeline, and then in the prime timeline, he is unsuccessful in his efforts and, as a result, the three women are never bonded to him.

Quote

“Are you, um, going to Movie Night? Chip is showing Casablanca. It’s supposed to be really good.”

Upshot

Most of the engineers I have known has not been like Tripp Tucker. They’ve been like José. Shy, quiet and inventive. Nothing flashy, but very solid and dependable.

Spotlight on an Original Species – Calafans

Spotlight on an Original Species – Calafans

Background

When I first started writing Reversal, I was beginning to come to grips with my own aging process. It’s inevitable – you begin to see yourself as not being so young anymore.

Enter the Calafans.

Lafa System

Described as being near both Klingon and Andorian space, the Lafa System is strategic to the nascent Federation. However, there’s more there than meets the eye, for the entire species is psionically gifted, and the region sits where the membrane between our universe and the mirror is at its thinnest.

The system is composed of four stars. In order from lightest to darkest, and largest to smallest, they are Lo, Abic, Fep and Ub. In the mirror, the largest star is red and is named Ub, whereas in our universe the largest star is white and is named Lo. Because both the largest (Lo in our universe, Ub in the mirror) and second-largest (Abic in our universe, Fep in the mirror) stars have planetary systems, and their orbits cross at various points, the numbering system cannot go from closest to a star to farthest away (by that logic, in our universe, Mercury would be Sol I and Earth would be Sol III, etc.). Instead, the planets are numbered in size order, from largest to smallest. There are twelve planets.

Lafa I

Lafa I is a gas giant close to the four stars and, much like our Jupiter, is very nearly a failed star. It is close to Lo and within the orbits of Abic, Fep and Ub. Therefore, the radiation levels are far too high to sustain life.

All of the other eleven planets are habitable.

Lafa II

The most important of the planets, Lafa II is the original home of the Calafan people. It is where Fep City and Point Abic are. This planet orbits outside of the four stars so, once they have all set, there is a true night. Elekai are native, and live on the southern hemisphere. Linfep are also native to this planet.

The Temporal Museum is eventually built here, and the Museum also owns land, which includes Doug and Lili‘s original home.

Lafa III

In Fortune, it’s revealed that there is an Unemployment Office here, staffed by Calafans.

Lafa IV

Olowa grows here. It is within the orbits of Fep and Ub so there is no true night on the planet.

Lafa V

There are factories here, and the people speak with an accent that resembles an Irish brogue (Fortune, Local Flavor). It is the most remote planet in the entire system.

Lafa VI

This is a smaller planet. Doug and Lili are trying to grow Mediterranean foods on it (olives, figs, etc.). There is a nude beach here.

Lafa VII

There are mining operations on this planet.

Lafa VIII

There is no information on this planet.

Lafa IX

Yimar takes Joss and Marie Patrice to a zoo here (Temper). In the alternate timeline, the initial home base of operations for the mirror universe to get a foothold in our universe happens here.

Lafa X

There is no information on this planet.

Lafa XI

There is no information on this planet.

Lafa XII

On this small planet in the Lafa System, Melissa and Doug hunt and bring down a perrazin (Temper). Linfep live here, but they were likely brought there from Lafa II.

Mythology

The Calafans feel that their four stars correspond to four gods. Lo and Ub are goddesses in both universes, whereas Abic and Fep are gods. According to the mythology of both universes, the passage between the universes started out as being free and clear, and Lo and Abic married, as did Fep and Ub, but the couples were all unfaithful. As a result, Lo bore Fep’s child and Ub bore Abic’s. For their second children, paternity was secured. Then the children intermarried, so that generation married its own half-siblings, making this mythology somewhat akin to ancient Greek or Egyptian texts.

Spotlight on an Original Species – Calafans
Silver scrollwork example

Furthermore, the species was beginning to experience a very real scientific event known as speciation. That is, there had been a mutation. For the Calafans, it showed up as differing skin color. The species was diverging. Hence the leaders (e. g. the four main persons) decided to erect a barrier between the two universes. Families were split apart. The feel should be very much like the Berlin Wall or the two Koreas. Silver Calafans stayed in our universe; copper ones went to the mirror.

Aging and Maturation Process

Calafan aging is the reverse of our own. Children of both genders are born completely bald, and stay that way until about their thirties, when they begin to sprout hair. In addition, their extremities are solid-colored. However, as they age, the color begins to break down, eventually to a complicated scrollwork pattern that is as individual as a fingerprint. When a Calafan is thoroughly devoid of extremity coloration (known as calloo), death is near.

Dreams and Psionic Abilities

Since everyone is gifted – and the dishes on Point Abic amplify the psionic waves – dreams are shared, not only between dreamers but crossing the universes. This is, of course, how Doug and Lili meet. For Calafans, it is common and, as a result, their relationships with persons from the other side are condoned. Their marriage vows even take it into account (A Kind of Blue).

Language

While I haven’t created a full-on language for the Calafans, I have created a lot of words, such as miva (clay), fep (small) and the yi- prefix, which means “student of”.

Names

Spotlight on an Original Species – Calafans
Copper Scrollwork example

Calafans do not have surnames; hence, the first names must be requested as they cannot repeat. Names are considered to be meaningful and parents are cautioned to choose wisely. However, there are names that are jokes. If parents name their son Fepwev, it means “master of the small”. This can mean teacher or microbiologist, but it can also be construed as being “master of very little”, e. g. mastery of a very small domain.

Many male names include the -wev suffix (master of) whereas female names often contain the yi- prefix. However, sexism is not the intention.

Sexuality

Because of their somewhat open marriages, Calafans can often appear to be on the make. Lili (Local Flavor) and Kevin (You Mixed-Up Siciliano, Spring Thaw) are both bothered by this.

Fanfiction Presence

Because I establish first contact as occurring in 2157 (although first contact between Calafans and Vulcans, Klingons and Ferengi – and possibly also Andorians – has occurred earlier), the Calafans aren’t officially present earlier than that. However, Jonathan spots a woman who turns out to be Calafan while on Risa (And the Livin’ is Easy). In the E2 stories, a Calafan runs a way station where Imvari bring slaves to the Orion market. But in both instances, the encounters are fleeting and the name of the species is not mentioned.

Upshot

For a species that was originally intended to be something of a villain, I ended up with more and better opportunities to showcase the Calafans and define their culture. There will be more written about them, I am sure, as I continue to get to know them.

Portrait of a Character – Susan Cheshire

Portrait of a Character – Susan Cheshire

Susan Cheshire got a bigger role as I wrote more.

Origins

Susan was originally just an ex-girlfriend of Doug‘s. She was meant to be mentioned quickly and then set aside. But she became even more interesting as I wrote more of Reversal.

Portrayal

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Yvonne Nelson as MU Susan Cheshire (image is for educational purposes only)
Yvonne Nelson as MU Susan Cheshire (image is for educational purposes only)

Susan is played by former Miss Ghana, Yvonne Nelson. Beautiful, intelligent and a little naughty, I feel Ms. Nelson evokes that wonderfully well. She is someone who a lot of guys would lament as being “the one that got away”.

Personality

A school teacher, Susan is playful and even rather sexually liberated, according to Jay in the E2 stories and Doug in Together. But all is not right, for in both universes she depends upon synthbeer to get through her days. She has blackouts and, before meeting Lili, it is Doug’s greatest fear and challenge to deal with that. He ends up walking away. Jay, too, cannot take her alcoholism. His departure causes guilt that eats at him at the start of the E2 stories.

Relationships

Doug Beckett

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Yvonne Nelson as Susan Cheshire (image is for educational purposes only)
Yvonne Nelson as Susan Cheshire (image is for educational purposes only)

With Doug, in the Mirror, Susan is a stabilizing influence, at least to start. They meet on Titania, and are together for a few months. But then she begins to experience blackouts. This causes Doug to panic, and he leaves.

But she remembers him, and refers to him as “Soldier Boy”, years later, during the first alternate timeline in Temper.

By the time of Fortune, Doug recognizes that she needed treatment and sympathy, and he feels badly for not doing that for her when he had the chance.

Jay Hayes

Portrait of a Character – Susan Cheshire
Susan when Jay knew her (Yvonne Nelson)

In our universe, a similar situation plays out with Jay. In the E2 stories, he reveals a sexually adventurous side of Susan that I never explore elsewhere.

But he, too, was blindsided by her alcoholism, and unable to cope. Just like Doug, he leaves abruptly. And just like Doug, he is consumed by guilt over that, but more so. Doug is able to get past it and be with Lili. But it takes a lot more for Jay to get past things and, in the prime time period (aligning with canon), he barely does so and, by then, it’s a bit too late.

Aidan MacKenzie

In both universes, Susan eventually ends up with, and marries, Aidan. For Susan, in our universe, she gets acceptance from someone who can handle her episodes and, perhaps, help her to heal.

In the mirror, Aidan protects her, and they team up well, to parent his son with Empress Hoshi, Kira. With Aidan, her life improves dramatically in both universes. With Aidan, it feels like she just might make it.

Mirror Universe

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Yvonne Nelson as MU Susan Cheshire (image is for educational purposes only)
Yvonne Nelson as MU Susan Cheshire (image is for educational purposes only)

Susan exists in both universes, and is mainly defined by her relationships. In Temper, she is past her prime and the effects of years of alcoholism have taken their toll. But in later stories, such as He Stays a Stranger, she is in better control.

Quote

“I’m going to assume you don’t want me dead.”

Upshot

This character seems to have all sorts of strikes against her. But she’s a survivor. And there is a reason why she was important to both Jay and Doug and, eventually, to Aidan.

Review – And the Livin’ is Easy

Review – And the Livin’ is Easy

Background

This story was originally written as a response to a prompt about the seasons. I had already written a story about winter, called A Hazy Shade. That one was somewhat depressing. I wanted something cheerier, so I thought of the summertime, and so And the Livin’ is Easy was born.

Plot Elements

As a missing scene from the canon Star Trek: Enterprise episode Two Days and Two Nights, I wanted to obliquely introduce the Calafans without beating the reader over the head with that. Hence, in this little ficlet, Jonathan Archer is engaging in a little girl watching.

There are two women in his sights. They are chatting together, but are not on Risa together on vacation. Rather, it’s more like they met there and got along so they are doing a little quick touring together.

Review – And the Livin' is Easy
Archer IV fish

In the canon Star Trek: Enterprise episode, Archer refers to a boat ride where fish are caught and cooked for you right there. Since that boat ride is never seen, I seized the opportunity to show it. He is on a bench and the two women are nearby, chatting. One is a Trill, but not named. This is not meant to be a first contact or canon-busting story at all. The other is a Calafan, recognizable from my Star Trek fanfiction as she has silvery scrollwork on her arms and speaks with an Irish brogue.

Jonathan speaks with them and asks them to show him around, but unfortunately they tell him they are leaving the following day.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

The story was just meant to be a gentle summery kind of scene. I think it makes a sweet little prequel tale.

Portrait of a Character – Hoshi Sato

Portrait of a Character – Hoshi Sato

Origins

Portrait of a Character – Hoshi Sato
Hoshi Sato

This is a canon character, of course. Hoshi Sato (her name, literally, means “at home in the stars”) is the Communications Officer on the NX-01, with the rank of Ensign, which she retains throughout the entire run of the series. Also according to canon, she eventually  rises to the rank of Lieutenant Commander (a rank that I, semi-incorrectly, use interchangeably with the rank of Lieutenant), and also marries a man named Takashi Kimura. In the canon E2 story, her two children are named Toru and Yoshiko. I go with those as being the names of her prime timeline children as well.

Hoshi is also, in canon, extremely intelligent (probably a linguistic genius) but, at least in the first two seasons in particular, is a bit insecure. She is the most likely to jump if the ship is attacked or bumped. She is also likely to doubt her own obvious abilities.

Portrayal

As in canon, this character is portrayed by actress Linda Park.

Personality

In addition to her canon quirks, I tend to write her as still being a bit more tentative, even after the Xindi War. In There’s Something About Hoshi, she is encouraged by the captain to stretch a bit. However, the reaction there proves to be far too much for her, and she balks a bit.

In Together, she reveals a playful and sexy side but, in the end, chooses career over romance, failing to realize that Tripp is truly passionate about her.

Portrait of a Character – Hoshi Sato
Hoshi on the Bluebird

She’s also caring. As Malcolm‘s First Officer on the Bluebird, she’s comforting when he receives the news in Equinox. She also defiantly says she will take the fall if there’s any real flak from the diverting of the ship to Lafa II instead of heading straight to the Klingon Neutral Zone, as planned. However, her retirement is planned, at a young age, as she is seeing her children grow up without her, and fears she is missing out.

Relationships

As I write her, she has four main relationships, including her canon marriage, which is acknowledged in Equinox, Flight of the BluebirdA Hazy Shade and There’s Something Else About Hoshi.

Sekar Khan

In the E2 scenario, she ends up, in both iterations, with the Quartermaster, Chandrasekar Khan. In canon, her husband is not named, so there is room to be creative in this area. Sekar is gentle and giving, but also keeps her from some of the worst of what’s out there. While he is no warrior, he intercepts problems and does his best to make her life easier.

Takashi Kimura

Hoshi’s canon husband is never seen on screen. I have really only written them as long-term marrieds, and never at the start of their courting.  That could potentially develop into a later project.

Ted Stone

In There’s Something About Hoshi, she laments about having settled during the E2 situation. For her, Ted seems to be another form of settling, as she sees him as being almost, but not quite, romantic. It’s as if he keeps missing his marks. When she is injected with a compound intended to make her irresistible, he is one of the few men who does not bother her, and is the only one who is heterosexual. He explains that the compound didn’t seem to work on him, as he was already there.

Tripp Tucker

Portrait of a Character – Hoshi Sato
Later Hoshi

They are forcibly paired up in Together, but they are the only couple who, truly, start off  in a non-hostile manner. Instead, they vow to “make the most of it”. The dance – literally – between them moves from fooling around to, eventually, a declaration of love on Tripp’s part, which Hoshi does not reciprocate. Unknowingly and unintentionally, she breaks his heart in her efforts to stay on the ship and remain able to work with everyone, including him and, presumably, T’Pol, his ex. She is thoroughly unaware that he is still interested, even as they are heading into the time of the canon These Are the Voyages episode and, instead, agrees to a date with José Torres. However, she might have a little residual jealousy, as is depicted in Broken Seal. An anomaly hit briefly impairs her judgment, and she stages an elaborate prank against Commander Tucker – but it’s possible that some of that stems from Tucker’s attempt to reconcile with T’Pol, an attempt that, in keeping with canon, fails.

Theme Music

In Together, she has a theme of her own, Bette Midler’s Do You Wanna Dance? and one which she shares with Tripp,  Joe Jackson’s Kinda Kute.

Mirror Universe

Because I write so much about the Empress Hoshi Sato, her mirror counterpart will be written about separately.

Quote

“Well, I suppose if I had a dinosaur, I’d sleep better, too.”

Upshot

The quintessential young career woman, Hoshi, in some ways, was not taken far enough in the series, I feel. In part this is because this character lost screen time, in favor of Tucker and T’Pol. But there were ways that the character could have stretched more. I hope to get a chance to write some more about Hoshi, and stretch her in my own way.

Inspiration – Literature

Background

Literature and books, of course, are canon. Even paper books are a part of some sets.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed
Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed, reading

But what are people really reading? In the canon Shuttlepod One episode, Malcolm reveals that he’s brought along a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses for diversion. But I’m with Tripp Tucker on that one – it’s just too dense for my tastes.

Jane Eyre

For my characters, one of the most important works of literature is Jane Eyre. It crops up in all sorts of places. In Together, the paper book is given as a belated wedding gift to Lili and Doug, by Hoshi and Chip. The book even has an inscription – “One good love story deserves another.” – Hoshi and Chandler. This is also the first time the reader sees Chip’s full name. Doug reveals that the work most likely does not exist in the mirror.

Jane Eyre (2006 miniseries) | Literature
Jane Eyre (2006 miniseries) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, in Temper, it is Malcolm and Lili who are reading the book together, and are discussing it. It’s probably not a terribly scholarly discussion, but it is more than just “I liked the book. Did you?

A Family Heirloom

In Fortune, the book passes as a cherished inheritance. First, Lili mentions it to Q, as evidence of being civilized. Then it passes from Malcolm to Neil when Malcolm passes. But that’s just the electronic version. When Leonora passes, the paper book is again transferred, and it is given to Marie Patrice, in recognition of Empy as being “… the strong, independent heroine of [her] own life.”

The book is also mentioned, along with its companion updating, Wide Sargasso Sea, in the Gina Nolan Hold Your Dominion universe story, Wider Than the Sargasso Sea. Gabrielle and Desh read it, but they are also acting in a staged version of it. The lines that they read are from the Toby Stephens-Ruth Wilson staging.

Shakespeare

Trek mentionings of Shakespeare are canon; the movies are littered with them.

Literature
Color pencil portrait of Julius Caesar

Mainly, I mention Julius Caesar and MacBeth.   Lili recalls to Q that she had to memorize Portia’s speech to Brutus from Julius Caesar, about the relationship between a true husband and a true wife. She uses this memory to bring Doug full circle and receive his confession.

References to MacBeth are more fleeting, except as regards to the meaning of Malcolm Reed’s first name. Names are important to Calafans and to the Empress Hoshi Sato, so Malcolm’s name’s meaning crops up from time to time. Since Malcolm is a character from “the Scottish play”, there’s the oblique reference. Furthermore, in The Mess, Lili briefly thinks of the line, “Out, out, damned spot!”

There is also the writing of original Shakespearean sonnets, written by both Malcolm (in Intolerance, Fortune and the E2 stories) and Bron (in The Reptile Speaks).

The Bible

KJV Bible | Literature
KJV Bible (Photo credit: knowhimonline)

Biblical references abound in the E2 stories in particular. Many of the wedding ceremonies involve short sermons with passages from various Bible stories. The stories of Solomon choosing not to slice an infant in half (to illustrate the choice that the Muslim bride Maryam Haroun made between two suitors, with the help of Doctor Phlox), Adam and Eve (used in Andrew and Shelby‘s wedding), and Ruth (to illustrate a point about the bride, Karin Bernstein, following the groom, Joshua Rosen) are all a part of various ceremonies.

Furthermore, when Jay and Lili wed, Jay refers to a biblical admonition to marry a dead brother’s widow, as this is right after Malcolm’s death.

In Concord, because Charlotte and Jacob are getting on in years and have not had any children, Jacob writes to her, expressing the hope that she could “be the Sarah to my Abraham“. That is, that she would have their first child far later than expected.

Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass

To be sure, the mirror universe is an obvious analog to Through the Looking Glass. In particular, in Reversal, when Doug passes from the mirror to our universe, he is passing through the looking glass and life is, in many ways, reversed for him.

Alice in Wonderland is evoked more by the HG Wells stories and, in The Point is Probably Moot, Richard Daniels even says to Alice Trent, “Down the rabbit hole.”

Furthermore, in the old Interphases story, The Puzzle, Travis Mayweather has an experience that involves a bottle with “Drink me” written on it and unchecked growth and a pool of water (although it is water, and not tears) around a table. When that adventure is over, he locates the book and sends electronic copies  to two people he has met, hoping they’ll enjoy the gifts.

Upshot

Intelligent characters enjoy reading just about as much as real people do. I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic as my characters crack open and read more books.

Progress Report – July 2012

July 2012 Posted Works

July 2012 began with creating a context topic for the various HG Wells stories, called
Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | July 2012
Clockworks: The Times of the HG Wells Collection. The first story I placed into that context was First Born, which is also in the In Between Days context as it’s a bridge story. Also, I added Desperation and Recruitment and then The Honky Tonk Angel.

I then began adding an HG Wells story, Spring Thaw.

In addition, I also responded to a weekly challenge about new things with difficult consequences with a story called Tumult. I also contributed to a Round Round story (still in the works) called Storm Clouds, contributing (so far) sections called Go Badgers, Diplomacy, The Cold-Blooded Blues and Chaos and Control. And I added a drabble called Barely Tolerable, meant to be a missing scene from Intolerance. I added the story of Kevin and Josie (Jhasi)’s first date, The Honky Tonk Angel.

The monthly challenge was called “A Page from the Past”. Hence this was an opportunity to finally create and complete a new Interphases story, Concord. I also placed it into context (the story is in the Interphases series but it also works as an In Between Days prequel).  Also, I put An Announcement, Barely Tolerable and We Meet Again into similar context.

On Star Trek Logs, I responded to a prompt about experiencing loss with a TNG story, Loss. I also added Broken Seal. In response to a prompt about rituals, I added Ceremonial.

On Trek United, I added A Single Step. And on Fanfiction.net, I added And the Livin’ is Easy and Cobbled Together.

WIP Corner

I continued working on the E2 stories, polishing the third and adding to the fourth one.

Prep Work

I created an HTML version of Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plain, in anticipation of the next Times of the HG Wells story for Ad Astra. Also, I worked a bit on jespah.com and streamlined the footers.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

The search for work continues to be a productivity killer. I am also in the midst of working on a project for a site where I am a Marketing Associate, so that took up some of my time.

Review – Waiting

Review – Waiting

Background

I wanted to follow up on The Light, and continue to follow the original characters who had been introduced in that work. Hence, Waiting was born. It was also a response to a prompt of the same name.

Characters

At the end of The Light, Ethan Shapiro has just seen his friend, Andrew Miller, get the girl – Karin Bernstein. By all accounts, Ethan approves of the match and, certainly, has taken no steps to prevent it and has raised no objections. But all is not as it seems.

In addition, their friend Azar Hamidi has watched the exchange, a kind of little dance among the participants.

Together with Shelby Pike, they wait on the chow line as Lili O’Day serves dinner. Shelby notices Andy and Karin acting strange and, perhaps, overly anxiously. She sits down with Hoshi Sato and Maryam Haroun. Shelby comments knowingly that it’s likely Karin and Andrew’s third date. Hoshi agrees. Maryam doesn’t know what that means, so one of her friends whispers to her. Maryam, a little shocked, mentions that she won’t do that until she’s married. That is, this is going to be the date where Andrew and Karin go all the way.

When they have departed, Azar and Ethan commiserate. Azar notices that Ethan is bothered by this, but vows to keep the secret, so long as Ethan keeps his (Azar’s) own secret about harboring a bit of a crush on Maryam. For Azar, it would not be proper to go on dates until he was introduced to her family.

woman_in_hijab
woman_in_hijab (Photo credit: xgthox)

As Shiite Muslims, Azar Hamidi and Maryam Haroun are of one sect. Another Muslim character, Ramih Azar, is Sunni (he is not in this story). But Maryam and Azar are the more religious two of the three Muslim crew members. The question of which sect is more observant is a complicated one, and I don’t pretend to answer it. All I go with is that Maryam has lived in a Western city (Winnipeg) whereas Azar is from Iran. Ramih, on the other hand, is Indonesian. I settle the matter by making it so that Maryam wears a hijab and is very strict about who to marry and how far to go before marriage. In the E2 stories, it’s revealed that she was only kissed twice before marriage, whereas Azar has had some sexual relationships. But for Azar during Waiting, all he wants to do is get closer. He may be thinking of other things, but is not prepared to push them at that moment in time.

As for Ethan, he is finding that he is very interested in Karin and, having allowed Andrew to get there first, he’s kicking himself. He’ll have to wait for everything to play out over time.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

I think the story came out pretty well. I didn’t want to make it too clichéd in terms of who retains their virginity, who is shocked, who is aggressive, etc. However, I also wanted to handle the diverse religious elements respectfully.


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Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

Charlotte Lilienne O’Day is a fantastic creation.

Every author needs a character surrogate. I have a few – Sheilagh Bernstein, Eriecho, Gina Nolan, Ethan Shapiro, Seppa, and HD Avery come to mind. But none are as attuned to me, or as similar to me, as Charlotte Lilienne O’Day. Lili.

Origins

I was thinking about writing Reversal for a while before I started, and I needed a name for my heroine.  So I decided on her full name for a few reasons. First, the name flows and is pretty. But – bringing her down to earth – her initials are CLO’D. Did her parents really mean to refer to her as a clod? Perhaps, but not in a negative manner. Lili reveals, in Fortune, that her mother was a potter, so perhaps the backhanded reference to clod refers to a moldable clod of earth.

I also liked the short name, Lili, as it’s casual yet feminine, but also feels more youthful than Lili really is. Lili started off, in Reversal, as being 48 years old, just like I was at the time.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

It took me several months to come up with a real face for Lili, who I describe as having eyes that are the lightest blue – nearly white in appearance, although she is not blind – and hair that is straight and platinum blonde. Her body is a little chunky although not too much, with a decent albeit not a knockout figure. Her lower teeth are a little crooked. She is self-conscious about her belly.

A Face

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Naomi Watts as Lili O'Day (image is for educational purposes)
Naomi Watts as Lili O’Day (image is for educational purposes)

After kicking around and, ultimately, rejecting the idea of the actress Jessica Tuck, I went with actress Naomi Watts.

Watts is lovely, to be sure, but is also fighting some signs of aging like parentheses lines around her mouth, much like Lili is. Her eyes aren’t light enough; contact lenses would have to fix that. But she also, to my mind, carries some emotional heft. I like it that she’s not an Angelina Jolie.

Personality and Background

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Young Lili O'Day with her mother, Marie Helêne Ducasse O'Day
Young Lili O’Day with her mother, Marie Helêne Ducasse O’Day (image is for educational and references purposes only)

Smart yet not overly so, Lili’s talent is in cooking. But she never would have known that if not for some seemingly unrelated events, plus sheer determination. At age nine, her parents die in a house fire at their home on Titan, in New France. Lili, at the time, was visiting her mother’s parents, the Ducasses.

This photograph is from a few weeks before. Lili describes it as one of her best and most enduring memories of her mother. Ironically, this picture first shows up in the Mirror Universe. Lili remembers the events leading up to the fire in her dreams, in the E2 stories, and then her subconscious supplies additional, unseen information, such as her father, Peter, shoving her mother to the floor and laying on top of her, one last act of protection.

Master of Fire

Initially afraid of fire, her maternal grandmother, Lilienne, makes her cook. Lili explains to Malcolm, in Together, that she was a difficult teenager, getting into minor trouble such as joyriding. She loses her virginity to her High School boyfriend, Paul Mayer – that act is also recalled in a dream. She is close to leading a dull life when she gets a chance to cook for the head of the Mars Culinary Institute. Lili makes lobster en croute, which is a kind of strained bisque in puff pastry. On the strength of that dish, she is admitted to the MCI and graduates. Her first job out of school is at the Tethys Tavern, where she not only cooks, but also tends bar on occasion.

Voracious

Eventually, Lili becomes skilled enough, and is in enough demand, that she opens her own restaurant, Voracious, in San Mateo. She describes the restaurant during Reversal (again, this is a memory seen through the prism of dreaming). It also shows up in Voracious, where the NX-01‘s Chef, William Slocum, goes to dinner. He enjoys her Harvest Salad so much that he talks to her about joining up. The Xindi war is raging, and Lili remembers the attack.

The city is still in aftershock mode. Slocum brings in Archer (I have not written that part yet) and Lili sells Voracious and comes aboard the NX-01. Her first day is chronicled in Harvest. She has been hired to act as sous-chef, pastry chef and saucier. Her duties include making desserts and birthday cakes, such as is shown in Protocols, plus she cleans up quite a bit. It isn’t until the E2 stories that she gets any help.

Relationships

Depending upon the story or the series, Lili experiences deep and abiding love, in a way that most of us can only dream of. While she has had boyfriends and lovers, at least twelve before the start of Reversal, she doesn’t really begin to have love until then.

Doug Beckett

Charlotte Lilienne meets Doug as a part of shared dreaming with the Mirror Universe, as is shown in Reversal. Her relationship with Doug is earthy and very physical, but she essentially tames him. When it comes time to exchange I love yous, they are both indirect. He tells her, “It would be really stupid if we were to fall in love.” And she replies, “It’s too late.”

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

With Doug, her life settles into a domestic routine quickly. In A Kind of Blue, she finds out she’s pregnant, and they quickly wed. Then in Pacing, andThe Gift, she receives a truly meaningful gift from Doug, meant to sustain her for their life together. In Local Flavor and Friday Visit, their relationships with friends are shown.

Then in Together, their relationship is challenged, and it finally comes to an understanding in Temper and then in Fortune. Doug and Lili have two children, Jeremiah Logan (known as Joss) and Marie Patrice (often called Empy).

Doug’s death is outlined in Equinox.

Malcolm Reed

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

With Malcolm, Charlotte Lilienne is different. Their relationship is somewhat freer, but that’s at least partly because, not until much later in life, they don’t live together.

Their meeting in Harvest is meant to be a foreshadowing of things to come, as they shake hands for too long, he looks her squarely in the eye and she drops a teacup. Because they are not together (Malcolm is her other fellow in her open marriage with Doug; Melissa Madden is Doug’s side girl in that same arrangement), there are a lot of good-byes and hellos.

So the homecoming in Temper is meant to be particularly sweet, and their time together at a hotel for a few days after that is meant to almost feel like a honeymoon, as is a shared dream during Fortune. With Malcolm, who is also a factor in the E2 stories, she can trade intellectual quips and insights. They read and talk about Jane Eyre. They play Scrabble and chess together. There is more highbrow business going on than with Doug, who often has trouble expressing himself.

Jay Hayes

Jay is only a factor in the E2 stories, but the events of Harvest, Penicillin and Demotion foreshadow some of that.

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

In Harvest, she notices Jay’s eyes when they are introduced, and he tells her that he likes blueberries when she asks about a favorite.

Then in Penicillin, he is coughing and so she makes him (and the rest of the crew) a little Jewish Penicillin, chicken soup with matzoh balls. In Demotion, Hayes disciplines Daniel Chang in front of Lili and her roommate, Jennifer Crossman. He looks and nods at them but doesn’t address them, a prelude to the E2 stories.

In the E2 stories, Jay and Lili circle each other warily (she also circles Malcolm) and do not get together for a few years. He needs to get over Susan Cheshire, she needs to see him as a potential mate. Things are good between them. He is a bit better at expressing himself than Doug, and develops a meaningful pet name for her – Sparrow. In Equinox, after his death, he accidentally refers to her that way, which alarms her. This is because, in Equinox, she doesn’t know about the first iteration in the E2 stories. She only knows about the second E2 iteration.

José Torres

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Naomi Watts as Lili O'Day (image is for educational purposes)
Naomi Watts as Lili O’Day (image is for educational purposes)

In Together, Lili reveals to Malcolm that, when they met an NX-01 manned by their descendants, she learned that she had married José Torres. Malcolm reveals that he had not had anyone. His revelation is canon, so this, the second E2 iteration, is the one currently being written so as to dovetail with Star Trek: Enterprise canon.

As an Engineering crewman, José is far from being a romantic guy, which is what Lili craves. But he’s practical, and he cares for her a great deal. Her feelings about him are a lot more mixed, and there is less of the deep and abiding love as is seen with the others. Lili is settling, and she and the reader know it, but there is no one else.

Ian Reed

Ian is Malcolm’s Mirror Universe counterpart.

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day

They never actually meet in life. But, as he explains in a dream in Equinox, counterpart to counterpart, he cannot help but be taken by her. In the third of the E2 stories, he meets her on the last night of her life, in a dream, and they dance. And in the fourth, Ian reveals that he has been tasked with guiding her and keeping her company, comforting her in her darkest hours.

She Who Almost Didn’t Breed in Time

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Naomi Watts as Lili O'Day (image is for educational purposes)
Naomi Watts as Lili O’Day (image is for educational purposes)

This is not only the name of the Xindi Insectoid that Lili kills during an episode of Fortune and feels the aftermath of in The Mess. It is also, in a way, what you could call Lili herself. But she has a total of (as of the time of this writing) seven children, depending upon which stories and series you read.

Joss Beckett and Joss Reed-Hayes

These sons are meant to be nearly identical, with Beckett as the son of the Mirror Universe husband and Reed-Hayes the son of the Prime Universe E2 first iteration husband. Joss is the one she depends upon to keep things together.

Marie Patrice Beckett and Madeline Reed-Hayes

Much like the two versions of Joss, these daughters are, respectively, children of the Mirror or the Prime Universe. However, their personalities diverge more. Marie Patrice is a bit of a materialistic person whereas Madeline grows up to become a Tactical Officer.

Declan Reed and Pamela Reed-Hayes

Both the children of Malcolm Reed, they are in the Prime Universe timeline and the E2 first iteration timeline, respectively. These children diverge the most. Declan is one of my visual artist characters whereas Pamela becomes a doctor, much like Pamela Hudson, who she is meant to evoke but not be named after, as the E2 denizens could not possibly have known about Dr. Hudson.

Maria Elena Torres

As Lili’s only child during the E2 second iteration, Maria Elena (named for Marie Helêne) is a bit of a wild card. As of the writing of this post, I have not yet determined how I want her to be. But the second iteration is more somber. Maria Elena will be one of the  few bright spots in that version of Lili’s life.

Dreams

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
Dreamy Lili

Lili is more defined by her subconscious than any of my characters, even the Calafans.

When I first wrote her, that first moment, she is in the middle of a dream, and it turns out to be a dream she shares with Doug, in Reversal. Her ability to share dreams gets enhancements from being in Calafan space. Eventually, she gets dream amplifier alloy to put on her person, in the form of her wedding ring from Doug (A Kind of Blue) and the key charm from Malcolm (Temper). In addition, the Calafans paint her with calloo-like tattoos made from the same material, callidium (Reversal). She is a dream collector and a dream projector in a lot of ways. Lili interacts in her dreams and utterly believes them.

In the E2 stories, she has no such amplifications. But Ian explains to her that she has some psionic abilities. She’s just not able to really focus them well. Hence, when he is with her in her dreams, she can hear him, and can feel him to hold her while they dance, but she generally can’t see him.

Elements

The main characters in In Between Days, except for Pamela Hudson, are all related to some sort of ancient element. Doug is air, Malcolm is water, Melissa is the earth, and Leonora is communication. Lili, because of how her parents died, and because of her skills at cooking, is fire. Doug and Malcolm both refer to her, at various times, as “the white-hot flame”. Jay even mentions that, while on his deathbed.

Theme Music

In Reversal, Lili (Charlotte Lilienne) begins with Roy Orbison’s Sweet Dreams Baby and then segues into Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes with Doug. Her next music is in Together, starting with O Pato by Emilie-Claire Barlow, to showcase her love for her family – the duck (Joss), the goose (Doug) and the swan (her). Then she is represented by Crowded House’s Something So Strong and then, with Malcolm, Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) by A Flock of Seagulls. That story continues with her and Doug’s Joe Jackson’s Breaking Us In Two but is ended on a much more positive note with her, Malcolm and Doug’s The Cure’s Love Song.

In Temper, she’s represented by Blind Melon’s Tones of Home. In Fortune, she is represented by Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams and then all of them are covered by Sister Hazel’s All For You.

Mirror Universe

The Mirror Lili (called Charlotte) is at home during the house fire at the O’Day home on June 12th, 2118. She and her younger brother, Declan, die along with their parents. Jay does refer to seeing her in the afterlife during a dream in Equinox, just after Doug’s death. He reports one of the pleasant things about heaven is you can be any age you like, even ones you never were in life. It comforts the grieving Lili to know her counterpart can be old enough for real love, and can experience it. Since Ian says the counterparts are also taken with each other, he could very well be a part of the love that Charlotte might be finally experiencing.

Quote

“I figured I didn’t deserve to have survived, like I wasn’t good enough and I hadn’t done anything to be allowed to be the sole repository of my family’s memories and their love and their talents and everything else. [and] I got into trouble and I didn’t face it much. I know now what a difficult child I must have been. It wasn’t until I became a master of fire that I began to process it. I began to have a handle on what had destroyed my family, and I could turn it to something that was almost good. And I began to slowly realize that my hopelessly old-fashioned, ancient and unhip grandparents were doing the very best they could for me, and that I should try and, and make it so that things wouldn’t be so hard for them.”

Upshot

Portrait of a Character – Charlotte Lilienne O’Day
Lili Upshot

I love this character. I cannot describe quite how much I do. But that makes sense, as so much of me is in her. Of course I know where the lines are. I have no children; I have a conventional marriage.

And I am not a professional chef; my parents (as of the writing of this post) are alive and well. But there is something about Lili. From her vulnerability to her superficial fretting about her less than perfect stomach to her sass to her whacking the hell out of She Who Almost Didn’t Breed In Time to how she sings to Joss to how she brings Jay out of his shell and gets Malcolm to loosen up and feel that even he can cry sometimes. All of this, and more, make her, to me, an utterly irresistible character who I cannot stop writing about. I am all characters, and all characters are me, but Charlotte Lilienne hits the most marks.

Spotlight on an Original Food – Vegetable Paste Tube Food

Spotlight on an Original Food – Vegetable Paste Tube Food

Background

In Reversal, I establish that the food in the Mirror Universe is, for the most part, pretty lousy. Doug even comments on it, and notes that he and his men will often go hunting if game animals are available. It almost doesn’t matter what they taste like; they are still assumed to be far better than normal fare.

By the time of the alternate timeline recounted in Temper, the food on the ISS Defiant is little better than slop. And in the history as described by Doug in Fortune, there is a rationing system. Cards with various letters have differing values. But the cards only refer to the number of times per week that a crew member is promised (this promise is often broken) a day with at least one meal containing meat. The cards say nothing about vegetables.

Necessity

Because fruits and vegetables are necessary for good health and for a fit fighting force, the  nutrients need to, somehow, be supplied. Enter the paste tubes.

Spotlight on an Original Food – Vegetable Paste Tube Food
Vegetable paste tube

As should be obvious, these are meant to look and feel like toothpaste tubes. There is no information on whether the contents are any color other than white.

The diner should not be tempted by them at all, and they probably don’t have much of a taste, either. Lili gets them to taste like something by squeezing out their innards and frying the mess with salt and linfep fat or some other fat in order to make a somewhat squishy version of potato chips, meant to be consumed with synthbeer.

Upshot

As another reminder of the difference between the Mirror side of the pond and ours, I think the tubes succeed pretty well. A society that values women, or cooking or taste or agriculture would not stand for them. But in the Mirror Universe, they don’t care, so Vitamin C, fiber and other nutrients are only supplied in this manner.