Review

Review – Inside Information

Review – Inside Information

A Nostalgic Review of Inside Information

Inside Information brings the In Between Days Series in line with Star Trek: Discovery.

Background

On the Discovery, a young crewman knows something no one else does. His ancestors have visited him in his dreams, and they have told him there’s a way to get home. And this young crewman is Douglas Malcolm Beckett. But he’s changed his name to Hayes.

Inside Information

Douglas Jay Hayes Beckett (Steven Culp) – image is for educational purposes only

Plot

For the ghosts of Douglas Jay Hayes Beckett and Charlotte Lilienne O’Day Beckett, it’s irresistible. Their descendant is in peril and he’s afraid. So they enter his dream state and they comfort him. But they also let him know that he can get home if all else fails.

For one of the great patriarchs and one of the great matriarchs of an enormous dynasty, the chance to help one of their own will always be on the table. And so Doug and Lili arrive, in mists and clouds and mystery.

Family Tree

Doug the younger is the son of Jay Hayes Beckett. Jay is the son of Joss, who is Doug and Lili’s first born. Doug the younger is also of interest because he’s born on December 3, 2229, giving him the same birthday as Douglas Jay Hayes Beckett. The difference, though, is 127 years.

Doug the younger’s sister, Lilienne Melissa Beckett, is born in 2230. In Fortune, Q shows her to Lili.

But the tree goes on and Doug the younger also connects to Barnstorming. In 2265, he marries Penny Webb. Their son, Steven Hayes, is born in 2270. He marries Lucy Kimura. Steven’s daughter, Lilienne Charlotte Hayes, is born in 2309. During Play, Time Out, and Overtime, Lilienne is one of the thirteen living descendants of Doug the elder.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Lili| Naomi Watts | pregnant-Inside Information

Lili (image of Naomi Watts is for educational purposes only)

Their son, Jay Neil Hayes (born 2307) has a daughter, Sheilagh. She marries Don Porter. Their daughter is Tamsin Jennifer Porter, another of the thirteen.

The Thirteen

Doug the elder’s thirteen living descendants in 2379 are:

  1. Douglas Daniels, born in 2305 (also Lili’s descendant via Malcolm Reed)
  2. Michael Daniels, born in 2341 (also Lili’s descendant via Malcolm Reed)
  3. Lilienne Charlotte Hayes, born in 2309 (also Lili’s descendant)
  4. Ariana LaForge, born in 2337 (also Lili’s descendant, via both Doug and Malcolm)
  5. Edward LaForge, born in 2322 (also Lili’s descendant, via both Doug and Malcolm)
  6. Geordi LaForge, born in 2335(also Lili’s descendant, via both Doug and Malcolm)
  7. Misty Dana MacKenzie, born in 2329 (Melissa Madden‘s descendant)
  8. Martin Douglas Madden, born in 2322 (Melissa Madden’s descendant)
  9. Jay Neil Hayes, born in 2307 (also Lili’s descendant)
  10. Sheilagh Hayes Porter, born in 2331 (also Lili’s descendant)
  11. Tamsin Porter, born in 2354 (also Lili’s descendant)
  12. Tina Reed O’Connor, born in 2291 (also Lili’s descendant via Malcolm Reed)
  13. Kevin Reed, born in 2344 (also Lili’s descendant via Malcolm Reed)

Story Postings

Rating

The story has a K rating.

Upshot

Doug the younger even refers to The Human Pioneers of Lafa II, neatly bringing Norri into the fold. It was a quick story, tossed off fast. But it ties the story together even more, and the family lives on, from generation to generation, and from series to series.

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Posted by jespah in Barnstorming, Hall of Mirrors, In Between Days series, Review, 0 comments
Review – Play

Review – Play

A Brutal Review of Play

With Play, I continued the Barnstorming saga. However, I started to run out of things to say.

Background

To continue the Barnstorming series, I had to give Dana and the rest of the gang something to do. The main invention was a fake Tellarite game called Kreesta. I wanted the most ridiculous kind of a sport imaginable. Hence Kreesta is a cross between competitive eating and table tennis. And yes, it is just as messy and undignified as you are probably thinking.

Plot

Play is the second story in the Star Trek TNG/ENT Crossover series, Barnstorming. The story follows Dana MacKenzie and her traveling sports team, as Martin Madden investigates a mysterious phenomenon. The story, at its end, sets up a crossover with ENT and with the Times of the HG Wells series.

Music

The story does not have any major music or musical themes.

Story Postings

Rating

The story has a K rating.

Upshot

The real problem with this story is the one for the entire series. I was horribly burned out and so the ideas did not come as freely as before. In addition, I was ready to write a lot more wholly original works, full-time. This meant taking time away from truly developing this story line. And then at the end, I copped out in a lot of ways, and dovetailed into the old family.

That is because I essentially grabbed the first canon character I could think of who could work, and I made him the anchor character. Martin Madden is the initial anchor character, but then Rick Daniels becomes the secondary. As a result, the story line got increasingly muddled and weird. And then it took a left turn into time travel, but that did work to fix a hole in the Wells series. So, yay? Maybe?

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Posted by jespah in Barnstorming, Review, Times of the HG Wells series, 1 comment

Review – Untrustworthy

Review – Untrustworthy

Background

Untrustworthy - Barking Up the Muse Tree

Untrustworthy

Untrustworthy is my first-ever published novel. Much like Reversal, it begins with a dream. And that makes perfect sense, as a dream inspired it.

Plot

As Tathrelle begins the part of her life related by the story, the reader sees flashbacks of what seems like a dream and then seems like an earlier existence. However, the older life gets cut short in favor of the new. Tathrelle’s life, instead, centers around her wife Ixalla, and the children they are about to have.

The Cabossians, a species made up by me, can have children in any combination, so long as both parties are fertile. Hence both mpreg and all varieties of marriage (same- and mixed-sex) figure in the plot.

Furthermore, Tathrelle’s new job drives a lot of the action, as she has won an election and represents the people in what obviously starts off as a military dictatorship. Also, in the background, a disembodied voice tells the people what to do. The first statements come out more as helpful hints and requests, such as to thank the public transportation driver or set the thermostat to a particular setting.

But that’s all about to change.

Music

The inspirational song for this book is Bastille’s Pompeii. Years later, and I am still incapable of hearing the song without thinking of the book, and vice versa.

Story Postings

Unlike any other works in this blog (as of now), this story is for sale and is not truly ‘posted’ anywhere. Even on the NaNoWriMo site, all you can find is a short snippet.

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

Without giving away more of the plot, I think the story is okay but the truth is, I have written better since then. However, it is a great first effort for publication. Furthermore, I feel it works in some ways to get me into the publishing game, but then what? I feel the book was promoted pretty well but not very well. I know it has more reviews than a lot of other indie works, but not as many as others. Sales come few and far between.

In the meantime, I write about different things. Can Untrustworthy serve as an entree for diverse works such as the space opera of The Enigman Cave, the science fiction detective stories in The Obolonk Murders and its two sequels, the Victorian urban fantasy of The Real Hub of the Universe and its two sequels, or the odd science fiction dystopia of Mettle?

Stay tuned, and thank you, as always, for your kind and unwavering support.

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Posted by jespah in original, Review, 2 comments

Review – There is a Road

Review – There is a Road

Background

There is a Road - Barking Up the Muse Tree

There is a Road

There is a Road originally came about as a response to an image prompt on the old Trek United. However, I do not have the rights to use that image, and Trek United is a mere shell of its former self.

The original image was a dreamy almost black and white, very shades of gray type of image. It was a wooden pathway into the woods, bending and seemingly with no ending.

Plot

The narrator is never named. She talks about her grandmother’s death from smoking, and her father’s from a transport accident. She mentions aliens and flying. Hence the time must be the future, and perhaps it is a rather deep future versus right now.

And then the narrator talks about making art. As she describes her process, the reader begins to understand that the narrator has screwed something up royally. Whether there has been an explosion or a fire, it hardly seems to matter. Because all that matters is that (spoiler alert), the narrator numbers among the dead.

Story Postings

This story is really only available on Wattpad.

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

This story is odd and dreamy and probably a little too spiritual for regular consumption. Also, there is just no way it could ever get a sequel or the like. Could I take it off Wattpad and submit it to an anthology? I suppose I could but, frankly, I do not think it stands as one of my better works. The piece is old and the seams do show. Still, it is an interesting premise, and perhaps I should rework it one of these days.

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Review – The Dish, a Passive-Aggressive Short Story

Review – The Dish

Background

The Dish - Barking Up the Muse Tree

The Dish

The Dish came from a dirty plate in our kitchen sink. Therefore, it proves you can get writing inspiration from just about anywhere.

Also, without a doubt, it serves as an utterly passive-aggressive study of human nature. Essentially, you first. No, you. I insist. I’m not gonna until you do it first. Etc you get the idea.

Plot

The main concept behind this plot serves to almost warn couples but also provide a bit of a primer on how to really be passive-aggressive. The narrator is never named and is only barely described as being female but there is nothing else.

Hence she remains a cypher, as does the cause of whatever the argument was initially all about. Also, the husband remains a cypher.

A plate is an odd place for inspiration, but the truth is that a plate had been sitting in our sink and I was getting annoyed by that. However, I didn’t make any moves to take care of this tiny mess. Neither did my husband. We are only talking about a few days here. The plot, of course, takes some liberties with the time, as this is fiction and not reportage.

Story Postings

This story is only available on Wattpad.

Rating

The Story is Rated K.

Upshot

As I noted previously, inspiration can come from nearly anywhere. And while this little story could perhaps stand some improvement, people tend to like it wherever I have posted it. For I did use it as a sample of my non-scholastic writing for a course when I was getting my Master’s.

By the way, yes, that’s really one of our dishes. And I think I was the one to rinse it off and put it into the dishwasher.

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Review – The Canadian Caper

Review – The Canadian Caper

Background

The Canadian Caper - Barking Up the Muse Tree

The Canadian Caper

The Canadian Caper exists as my foray into writing bandfic/real person fiction.

First of all, my true mission here was to try to combat the surfeit of Wattpad band fiction, mainly centering around both One Direction and Justin Bieber. Furthermore, I was really into Postmodern Jukebox when I wrote it. Hence the entire story serves as an attempt to almost newsjack two separate genres and trends. Hence one was the bandfic trend on Wattpad, and the other was the popularity of PMJ on both YouTube and Facebook.

Plot

The PMJ Detective Agency has to solve a mystery when Puddles Pity Party, the six foot eight tall clown with the golden voice, is kidnapped.

Music

So as should be expected, the story is chock full of music.

The first song is Robyn Adele Anderson singing Jason Derulo and Snoop Dogg’s Wiggle.

As the team assembles, the next song is Von Smith singing Magic!’s Rude as he romances his girl.

So it was great fun turning tiny Ashley Stroud into a professional kickboxer. The next song is her singing Iggy Azalea’s Fancy.

Next up, I turned Cristina Gatti into a video games aficionado and computer hacker. Here she sings Stay with Me by Sam Smith.

In addition, ecology maven Morgan James doesn’t taken any guff from the loser she’s been dating, and lets him have it with Really Don’t Care by Demi Lovato.

Once the team assembles, they’ll need disguises, so it’s off to the Thrift Shop, a cover of the (Grandpa Style) Macklemore song, as sung by Robyn Adele Anderson.

In keeping with the somewhat corny plot thread, our heroes win a singing contest in a small town when Robyn sings Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines.

As they thwart their enemies, our heroes sing Ellie Goulding’s Burn.

After a brawl (hey, it’s noir fiction!), PMJ sings Lorde’s Royals.

Finally, for the last chapter, as romance blossoms and PMJ gets everything they ever wanted, Scott gets the girl, and Robyn sings Katy Perry’s Birthday.

Story Postings

This story only exists on Wattpad.

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

Furthermore, while it was a good idea at the time (I suppose), I grossly overestimated Wattpad interest in Postmodern Jukebox. However the truth is, the two sets of demographics do not really mesh that well at all. However, my attempt at trendjacking was not a completely bad idea. It would have probably done better elsewhere, but there are few places to post wholly original fiction you don’t really want to try to sell.

Finally, the story also became dated fairly quickly when, apparently, Bradlee and Anderson stopped seeing each other. Ah, well. That’s the nature of trendjacking; it never lasts.

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Posted by jespah in original, Review, 0 comments

Review – The Social Media Guide for Wattpad

Review – The Social Media Guide for Wattpad

The Social Media Guide for Wattpad started off as a means of reviewing what I learned in class at Quinnipiac University. As a student, I wanted to make sure I understood the material. Creating a guide seemed the perfect way of doing just that.

Background

The Social Media Guide to Wattpad - Barking Up the Muse Tree

The Social Media Guide to Wattpad

The Social Media Guide made sense as a project. I wanted to cement my own knowledge, and also to help others. As a result, I started off with talking about exactly what I had learned in school. Namely, this consisted of the POST strategy (people, objectives, strategy, and technology). My main idea was to keep Wattpad posters from simply diving into social media. It made more sense to have a plan before doing so. It always does.

Plot

Of course this one does not truly have a plot. Rather, I divided it into sections. So this was everything from demographics research to determining objectives, to deciding on strategies. For the technology portion, I wrote sections devoted to Facebook and Twitter, and also talked about YouTube, Tumblr, and Pinterest. As I recall, I don’t believe I covered any other social media platforms. Hence there was nothing on Snapchat or Storify, for example.

Story Postings

This work can only be found on Wattpad.

Rating

The book is Rated K.

Upshot

While I imagine it worked out well enough, I am not so sure I would ever really put in the effort to update it. While The Social Media Guide has over 11,000 reads and more than 560 comments (more than for all of the instances of Reversal, combined), the commenting dropped down to nothing once the new content stopped. Furthermore, this is the kind of work which I should be charging money for. While I will not remove the book (hence its free status remains assured), I need to think about personal finance these days.

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Posted by jespah in original, Review, 0 comments

Review – Milk

Review – Milk

Milk is one of those stories which feels just a little bit too naughty. I mean, it’s a cartoon. But it feels a tad too much, as I look back on it these days. For this short story, actually, is a few years old. I have improved and changed as a writer since then – a lot.

Background

The prompt was to write a crossover story. I went with TOS and TAS, just to be different.

Plot

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Milk

Milk

So the story, told from Scotty’s point of view, is about him getting ready for a date with a newer crew member. She is friendly and pretty and he is a lonely, kind of awkward guy. Furthermore, he admits he can’t quite understand what she would possibly see in a guy like him. And that works out a bit with the canon character, at least in The Original Series. Scotty does not get a lot of chances for romance (Mira Romaine is one such chance, as I recall). But usually he is just called on to be the miracle worker and that’s that. It is not until the films where he gets a romantic interest, and that person is none other than Nyota Uhura.

Maybe that’s even weirder than this story.

In addition, I had not realized that, in the Animated Series, this kind of a relationship was explored a little bit. However, it was not like this, as Scotty is having thoughts which are definitely not for children on a Saturday morning!

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K+.

Upshot

Finally, for Scotty, often seen as a ‘eunuch in a tunic’, I wanted him to have some sexiness in his life. At the very  least, I hope that came across!

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Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Review, 1 comment

Review – Revved Up

Review – Revved Up

Revved Up rocks.

Because I have more or less run out of (completed) Star Trek fan fiction to blog about, I would like to introduce some of my wholly original fiction to this blog. I hope the insights will prove fruitful or at least interesting.

Background

Revved Up - Barking Up the Muse Tree

Revved Up

This story started because I had stayed at my childhood home and noticed something odd in the front yard. And the truth is, it was nearly nothing. However, I sometimes have an overactive imagination, and so I took this idea and I ran with it.

What did I notice? It was only a few ruts near a flower bed. They were nothing, really, and were most likely made by a hoe or a rake. However, in my mind, I decided they would be tire tracks. And then the fun started.

Plot

A holier than thou narrator tells the story to an unnamed police officer. The plot circles around the narrator’s elderly parents’ next-door neighbors. And the narrator refers to them as the POJ Family. That is, the “Pair of Jerks”.

As the story progresses, our narrator gets more and more self-righteous as the POJ Family continues to perform more and more outrageous acts in her parents’ sleepy, leafy Northern New Jersey suburban street (Note: my folks live on Long Island and they don’t even live in the inspiration house any more).

Sharp-eyed readers should be able to follow along at least in part. The narrator keeps a lot of information close to the vest, so it pays, actually, to read the book again. And no, I’m not trying to inflate read counts.

Story Postings

The story’s sole posting is on Wattpad, where it was named a Featured Story a few years ago.

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

This story has had better traction than nearly anything I have ever written. With (as of the time of the writing of this blog post) over 54,000 reads and over 400 comments (many of which referenced that surprise ending), Revved Up remains an unqualified success.  Of course having Featured Story status helped a great deal.

Could I sell it? I have toyed with that idea, but the story is so odd and it’s really too short for a novel. Plus it does not really lend itself to a sequel. While sequels are far from necessary, it helps if that’s an option.

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Review – Multiverse II

Review – Multiverse II

Multiverse II was a great round robin that, unfortunately, we never finished.
Multiverse II

Background

First of all, Multiverse II came about as the denizens of Ad Astra wanted to work on a round robin style story together. While the story got interested, complex, and convoluted, it was never really completed. However, it did give me some terrific insights into my own characters.

Plot

During the time period just after Shake Your Body, Branch Borodin, Levi Cavendish, and Otra D’Angelo and characters from other authors’ stories are called upon to save the universe.

Music

There was a ton of music in this one as everyone receives inspiration in their own way. However, rather than repeat it all, I’d like to just showcase the theme songs for my three characters.

Otra’s theme ended up as The Talking Heads’ Nothing But Flowers. While the flowers references obviously presents itself, I really loved the line, “I wish I had a lawnmower.” Furthermore, the song images a post-apocalytic time, and that is exactly where Otra finds herself.

In addition, Levi’s theme ended up as Wall of Voodoo’s Mexican Radio. Because his mind is a session of Google Chrome with 1,000 open tabs, a fast-moving number with hard to hear lyrics made the most sense.

However, for Branch Borodin, I went with Us3’s Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia). Branch can be hard to pin down, but jazzy and funky rhythms seem to fit the best.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

I truly wish that Multiverse II had been completed. It held a ton of fascinating original ideas, and could have been truly epic. Hence it ended up as merely great. Which is not so bad, eh?

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Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Review, Times of the HG Wells series, 0 comments