Category Archives: Review

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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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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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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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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Review – Victory in Maine

Review – Victory in Maine

Victory in Maine came about quickly and with little thought.Victory in Maine

Background

Victory in Maine was written for Steff and takes place in her Arc of the Wolf series and universe. However, the truth is, these days I feel it ended up as a bit too flip. Furthermore, I was trying to be too clever by half and also provide a ‘cheer you up’ type of story rather than anything with any sort of a recognizable, coherent, consistent, or compelling plot. And that does not make for a good story at all.

Plot

So with very little plot, the story mainly centers around one of the few events I knew had happened in Steff’s timeline and in her universe – Corry and Scotty more or less just shooting the breeze. Furthermore, the prompt image felt kind of silly and I had to work within those confines.

Therefore, I learned one big lesson from this one: an odd prompt generally does not a good story make. In fact, while odd prompts may feel original and even clever, they just do not work well for decent story telling.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

Because the prompt image really just weirded me out, I had very little to go on. Furthermore, some of that ended up being my own damned fault as I did not perform enough research on the characters or on Steff’s overall story line. While her own true story line interests and often dazzles, my own feels pale in comparison. While I do not hate this particular story, I also, most certainly, do not love it. Not one of my better efforts, not by a long shot.

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Review – Third Worth More Than First

Review – Third Worth More Than First

Third Worth More Than First? Maybe so.
Third Worth More Than First

Background

Third Worth More Than First was a Daranaean story written by FalseBill when I ‘accidentally on purpose’ allowed others to play in my universes.

Plot

FalseBill went with the idea of a second, failed contact between humans and Daranaeans, and he decided it would end in a tragedy. In February of 2160, the Columbia makes second contact with the Daranaeans. And as a result, the hierarchy of Daranaean wives ends up costing that species a ship and everyone on board it. Because the third caste female has no say in what is going on, her wise counsel ends up being ignored. Much like slaves and other submissives, no one gives a damn about anything she has to say. And as a result, the Daranaeans all lose their lives.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

Because the Daranaeans really have to be written in a particular fashion, I do not get too excited when anyone gets them ‘wrong’. After all, the hierarchy and the complexity of their relationships can prove daunting to even me. And I’m the one who created that species in the first place. Furthermore, the concept is sound, that a third caste female would be ignored and that could have tragic consequences. My main quibble is that it breaks my own fan fiction ‘canon’, seeing as the second contact technically comes from Take Back the Night.

However, if I see the story as taking place after Take Back the Night, then the timeline works out.  Again, the Daranaeans are really a particular species to write, and I am pleased that FalseBill took the chance and tried to write them.

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Review – The Golden Lady and the Knave

Review – The Golden Lady and the Knave

The Golden Lady and the Knave came about as a result of a poetry challenge on Wattpad.
The Golden Lady and the Knave

Background

First of all, the Golden Lady and the Knave was the poetry from Intolerance, stripped bare. I wanted to introduce people on Wattpad to the In Between Days series and a little poetry contest provided the incentive.

Plot

While the plot does not exist, the poetry adds some color and substance. However, without the background of who the participants are (Malcolm Reed and Dr. Pamela Hudson), the poetry, while lovely, falls kind of flat in places. Since the characters were not introduced, a curious reader cannot learn how dysfunctional their relationship ends up being, or why he writes what he does. And the reader cannot know how the damages Pamela suffers from, or why she closes herself off so very completely.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

Because I do so love the poetry, the story does get something of a pass. After all, it was never truly meant to be a story without the additional trappings of the Intolerance novel. Furthermore, it does introduce readers to my poetry. However, Wattpad is a hard place to break into when it comes to fan fiction writing. The issue is the overabundance of non-Star Trek fan fiction on that site. Those other stories drown out pretty much anything Star Trek unless the reader makes it abundantly clear they are writing within the Kelvin timeline and, quite frankly, it’s really only Kirk slash which goes over (semi-)big. Kirk’s partner, inevitably, ends up as either Spock or McCoy.

And since I am not writing any of that, subtle poetry really gets lost.

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Review – The All-Stars

Review – The All-Stars

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

Background

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

Plot

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

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

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

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