Category Archives: Review

Review – I Got Married to the Widow Next Door

Review – I Got Married to the Widow Next Door

Background

I Got Married to the Widow Next Door is a bit of fluffy silliness. It came about because I was in a jam. But music saved me! Thank God.

"Barking

I got an assignment to write a story in trekfan’s universe. And I was utterly stumped as to what to do.

Plot

Henry Harrison, known as Hank, is a truly romantic character. But he does not get the girl until a lot later in life. Instead, his teen years are fraught with teenaged boy perils. These are familiar to most people.

I truly loved the idea of using Mary-Kate Olsen for the nasty Queen bee character, Jolinda Fredericks. The character makes for a harsh contrast to how I ‘cast’ her identical twin, Ashley Olsen (spoiler alert: I ‘cast’ Ashley as Jhasi Tantharis AKA Josie O’Connor).

Hank is basically minding his own business in high school when Jolinda decides to use him to make her boyfriend jealous. Furthermore, she gets to humiliate Hank and she even gets in a dig at Hank’s dream girl, part-Andorian Bethany Reeves.

Music

The music is, of course, Herman’s HermitsI’m Henry the Eighth, I Am

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

Oh, Jolinda is a nasty one. And this story gives her a comeuppance. However, by the end, Hank is humming the song and congratulating himself on how his life turned out, versus hers. Because Jolinda is the epitome of the selfish, spoiled brat. Then she takes shortcuts and expects everyone else to fall in life. But life does not work quite like that. And Daddy’s connections do not impress either adulthood or Starfleet. I loved this nasty character, and should try to find another place for her.

Like this page? Tweet it!


You can find me on .

Review – I Do Again/ I Do Again (And Again)

Review – I Do Again/ I Do Again (And Again)

I Do Again! And again!

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Times of the HG Wells | I Do Again/ I Do Again (And Again)
Times of the HG Wells

Background

The first story was prompted by a ‘Now What?’ prompt. Then the second was a POV shift. Since I loved the first one so much (and had never really written Yilta’s point of view before anyway), I added the second. Hence they are shown together as I practically tackled the two at once.

Plot

Long after the events of He Stays a Stranger, Kevin O’Connor and Yilta the Calafan marry. And it is a second marriage for both of them.

During the ceremony, any number of odd things happen. Best man Levi Cavendish drops the rings. Twice. Then Maid of honor Deirdre Katzman bends down to look for them and nearly loses her flowers. And then half-Witannen Otra D’Angelo‘s floral-like chavecoi point where the rings are on the ground. And officiant Branch Borodin, the colony alien, interrupts the ceremony asking if the happy couple want to take a survey.

So these shenanigans are nearly enough to drive Admiral Carmen Calavicci back to drink. But at least she can refrain, for the moment. However, I cannot promise she won’t fall off the wagon at some later date. And I like that idea.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

So I really loved how both of these came together. Sometimes, writing is a lot like taking dictations. The characters simply speak, and then I transcribe whatever it is that they are relating to me. And that happened both times. Furthermore, I loved writing Yilta’s point of view, because she is an interesting character. However, I had neglected her inner life until these little stories. Let’s say I do again! And again!

Like this page? Tweet it!


You can find me on .

Review – Hearts in Time

Review – Hearts in Time

Hearts in Time was born from a collaboration between me and trekfan.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Take Back the Night | Hearts in Time
Take Back the Night

Background

trekfan and I decided his character, Hank Harrison, would go on a blind date with one of my characters. Being the silly gal that I am, I paired him up with a Daranaean, Inta II.

Plot

Hank is looking for love and to start a family. Inta is looking mainly for someone ‘to be kind’. She is a secondary Daranaean female, so she has some privileges, but they are just not enough. Since this story ends up taking place before her admission to Oxford, her art is a kind of unrequited love in her life.

Hank is taken aback at the look of his blind date. At least she is humanoid, but otherwise he just plain cannot wrap his head around dating her. But they have a good chat and manage to enjoy each other’s brief company. They even give each other a little advice before they part.

Along with determining that Inta is an artist, I also learned, for the first time, what a Daranaean kiss is like. It’s the tiniest of licks, much like we would get from a real live puppy.

Story Postings

Hearts in Time on Ad Astra

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

This was the first time I had ever written Inta II as an adult. And it was also the first time she became an artist. It was a great find, and that led directly to her attending Oxford with Declan Reed.

We wrote the story in a chat, and it all went down rather quickly. If I were writing it again, I would probably spend some time outside of chat. Furthermore, I think we would have done better to have allowed for some time to elapse and for some editing. But it is a decent story, and it is certainly, on balance, a rather sweet one.

Like this page? Tweet it!


You can find me on .

Review – Free

Review – Free

Free is yet another drabble.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Interphases | Free
Interphases

Background

For a story where the title is the inspiring word, I decided to go with a rather serendipitous find. I have always loved the meaning of names. And I admit I have used names’ meanings in order to further my own writing agendas. The story is started and a name is chosen, and then I look at the meaning. Hence if the meaning helps me out, I will follow it. But if it does not, I am all right with that.

Plot

The human name Charles means ‘free man’ (in fact, when Lili and Doug marry in A Kind of Blue, and she has to reveal the meaning of her name, she says ‘free woman’, as her true first name is Charlotte).  Because the idea proved irresistible, I decided to go with T’Pol and Tripp talking about how to name their as-yet unborn child.

As I wrote this drabble, I was already working on Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. Hence this very short story was folded into that much larger one.

For sharp-eyed readers, the three-book E2 series, Reflections Down a Corridor, Entanglements, and The Three of Us allows for one set of circumstances to unfold. In Everybody, another set of circumstances arises. While some situations work out as almost an instant replay, others differ.

Hence for this particular scene, the storyline allows for a scene missing from the original trilogy. In the original trilogy, there is no naming scene. But I wanted there to be a reason why they chose the name Lorian.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

Like a lot of drabbles, this one suffers from being too short. However, I was able to convert it rather neatly into a scene in Everybody Knows this is Nowhere.

Like this page? Tweet it!


You can find me on .

Review – Fear

Review – Fear

Fear is one of the most important motivators for any person.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Interphases | Fear
Interphases

Background

Furthermore, in this very short story,  I used this rather particular and unpleasant motivation in order to get two rather disparate people to connect.

Plot

During the E2 timeline and more specifically during the events of The Three of Us, Lili is required to take a shuttle flight test.  Actually, everyone has to do it. While the pretense (on paper, as it were) for this is a need for the characters to cross-train and understand more about the overall workings of the ship, my true motivation was to get Lili alone for a moment and then get her and Jay alone in order to have the Imvari capture them.

As a result, this little scene is absolutely necessary. Travis tests Lili on how to fly a shuttle. And she fails the test. Hence the scene accomplishes its task. But I wanted more, so I ended up making it also about Lili’s fears. Furthermore, I was able to make it about Travis and him missing his family. This also gave me something I was able to use later in Everybody Knows this is Nowhere.  It can be kind of funny how some small, seemingly throwaway scenes can help out a writer at a later date, eh?

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I liked this little scene so much, it became a part of the far bigger book. Lili’s fear is directly used to showcase a certain level of vulnerability. Travis shows the fear his mother had and, by extension, his fear that he will never see her again. For both of them, this powerful (and powerfully negative) motivator rules the scene.

Love may make the world go ’round, but we all share fear.

Like this page? Tweet it!


You can find me on .

Review – Advice from My Universes to Yours

Review – Advice from My Universes to Yours

Advice for all! Well, kinda.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Advice From My Universes to Yours
Advice From My Universes to Yours

Background

As a holiday gift, I decided to put together a number of disparate characters. Since these are characters of my own invention, I could and did have them say nearly anything. The idea would be to act as a kind of helpful team but with the same quirkiness a reader might have come to expect.

Plot

Six characters land in some odd place. And for sharp-eyed readers, they might recognize a similarity to The Puzzle. This was deliberate, as I wanted a storyline similar to Travis‘s. Furthermore, I have far better writing skills than I did then. Hence I felt this would be a better story, and I believe that to be the case.

Background

When Jay and Lili (in the prime timeline), Dratha, Eriecho, Levi, and Branch land, they have no idea what is in store for them.  Because this takes place more or less right after Penicillin, Jay is still rather gruff but he’s trying. For Levi and Branch, this is later in their timelines. Eriecho is already on Mars. And Dratha’s husband, Arnis, is already incarcerated.

Serious Help

The characters then proceed to help out ten characters created by others. The first is kes7’s John Quigley, who gets help (sort of) in his love triangle. Then Bethany Reeves (trekfan’s character) is up, and the characters talk to her about her parents separating in one of the few serious vignettes. The next caller is Jessica St. Peter (Templar Sora’s character), and the so-called experts kind of, sort of, help her with asserting authority.

Not So Serious Help

For Andrew Corrigan (SLWalker’s character), it’s all about how to spend his first date with Abby (I managed to get in a sushi as bait joke).  Aurellan Markalis (Enterprise1981’s character) also has a problem with a date but it was probably, the advisers agree, for the best that it ended early. Srena (CeJay’s character) comes up next. She is told how to create a calming ritual to help her get to sleep at night.

Mysterious Help

Then Jasto Dax (CaptainSarine’s character) calls. While most of the group doesn’t even know what a Trill is, Dratha provides good information about how to essentially pick your battles. She tells him not to answer every single summons. The next caller is Dr. Veronica West (thebluesman’s character); she learns she should become more creative. Then Spock calls (while this is a canon character, the gift was for littleblackdog) about a canon situation, the end of the TOS episode, Requiem for Methuselah. The last caller is Emmylou Galyaski (FalseBill’s character). She talks about mourning her late husband and, in their own odd ways, the so-called experts help, at least a bit.

Departures

Then it’s time to leave. Dratha volunteers to go first as it looks dangerous. Eriecho leaves next. Jay and Lili leave together and she touches his arm. Then Branch and Levi depart, and the following graffiti is shown:

As the last of the reluctant travelers/advisors departs, the room disappears and is swallowed into the vast vacuum of space, leaving but one final thought.

 Happy holidays across all galaxies, all timelines, all universes and all realities.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I liked showing off the weird characters and trying to get them to work together. As a bonus, I was able to cross over just a little bit with others’ works.

Like this page? Tweet it!


You can find me on .

Review – Paradox

Review – Paradox

Paradox – boy, are we ever in trouble!

Paradox Background

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Deep Future | Paradox
Deep Future

As a part of a Star Trek fanfiction competition, fellow writer kes7 and I decided to collaborate on this time travel mayhem-style crossover novel. Levi, the most squirrelly and ADHD-addled person in history, nervous and quirky to a fault, would be tasked with saving humanity.

By having to be socially acceptable or at least in the realm of socially competent.

Yeah, I agree.

We’re doomed.

Plot

In which humanity’s survival depends on Levi Cavendish’s social skills. Takes place in 3110.

kes7’s original character, Maren O’Connor (who we decided would be related to Kevin), and canon character Icheb, are an item in her universe. At this stage in their development, they are building their own time traveling device. But this is rather early in the engineering process, and the device is imperfect. It threatens the multiverse and humanity (because why not make the stakes super-high?) and the Temporal Integrity Commission has got to stop them.

Reluctantly, Carmen sends Levi and Otra. However, Otra does not have permission to go to the surface although she can communicate directly through Levi’s implanted communicator. As she feeds him information, he becomes even more confused. It does not help that a girl named Marci is flirting with him, big time. Which is Levi’s mother’s name.

It helps even less that Otra has finally realized that she is in love with him.

Awkward!

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

We had a lot of fun writing this one, but we will both admit our resolve sometimes wanes. The story remains unfinished after a few years. We need to finish this one. I want to know what happened. Don’t you?

Like this page? Tweet it!


You can find me on .

Review – Dear Naurr, Dear Lili

Review – Dear Naurr, Dear Lili

Dear Naurr – Can I help you with cooking? I’m willing to help. Let me know. – Lili

Dear Naurr, Dear Lili Background

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Dear Naurr Dear Lili
Dear, Naurr/Dear, Lili

After seeing Naurr the Cajun Caitian chef for the first time, I was hooked. The best part about him, to my mind, beyond the fact that he was a walking mass of malapropisms and weird immigrant-style unfounded assumptions, was that he was native to the ENT time frame.

That meant he was alive at the same time as Lili. I hit upon the idea of Lili giving him a little friendly advice. I had already answered the letters from home prompt, but I gave it another go and this one proved to be just as satisfying albeit rather different.

Plot

On February 17, 2158, Lili gives a little advice to a new chef.

Married to Doug and pregnant with Joss, not to mention opening up Reversal on Lafa II, Lili is one busy lady. But she needs to confide a bit in someone. Treve, her business partner, has a friendly ear but he is not a chef. Lili needed someone who could more or less understand about recipes. This person would also understand some of her cooking frustrations.

Further, the story provided an opportunity to revisit a favorite time period, where Doug and Lili are newlyweds and it is before Malcolm and the beginning of the open marriage and what they, along with Melissa and Norri, refer to as the arrangement. Sometimes, it’s good to just write a far simpler relationship scheme.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

I really enjoyed getting them together, at least virtually by means of an essentially epistolary novel. This led to Bomb(e) as a sequel.
Like this page? Tweet it!


You can find me on .

Review – Bombe(e)

Review – Bombe(e)

Bombe! Oh, no! Relax; it’s a bombee glacee.

Background

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Bombe
Bomb(e)

As a follow up to Dear Naurr, Dear Lili and to provide a holiday gift for Naurr’s creator, False Bill, I wrote this trifling bit of silliness.

The Cajun Caitian chef would be a hero, fighting off Romulan invaders in a boarding party. Therefore, in keeping with canon, Naurr could not see them, so I have him hit over the head. Hence he will not have much of a memory of, well, anything afterwards.

This works fine for my purposes and adds to the fun. Also, given the head injury and Naurr’s propensity for malapropisms, no one can figure out where the bomb supposedly is. Naurr is going to get a medal for this, for sure.

So long as the ship, the Ariane, isn’t blown to smithereens.

Oops. That would be bad.

Plot

On June 3rd, 2158, Naurr makes a bombe glacee and fools a mysterious boarding party into believing it’s an actual bomb.

A big part of the joke is just waiting for the joke to happen. I also had some fun adding two characters of my own to the story. One is the doctor, Bernardine Keating-Fong. Sharp-eyed readers will recall her as the instructor in Intolerance. Plus there is a guy set to defuse the so-called ‘bomb’, Tim Randall. Think back, alert readers! Tim, in the Mirror Universe, is one of Doug’s kills.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

The story is cute and silly. Also, the fun part is not so much the punchline as that is rather obvious. It’s more that the reader does not know just when the punch line is going to happen. So I enjoyed writing this one very much! Viva Naurr!

Like this page? Tweet it!


You can find me on .

Review – Another Piece of the Action

Review – Another Piece of the Action

It’s another piece!

Another Piece of the Action Background

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Another Piece of the Action
Another Piece of the Action (cover by thebluesman)

During the time period just after You Mixed-Up Siciliano, in January of 3110, Kirko, Spock and the boys join Temporal Agents Richard DanielsSheilagh Bernstein, and Deirdre Katzman in handling Bela Oxmyx and his cronies. This is a collaborative story with the bluesman.

Isn’t the cover just fantastic? Justin made it. I have a copy (signed by him) hanging in my computer room.

Plot

As a means of getting back to the story, we decided on time travel. The Temporal Integrity Commission would have to fix the problems which Kirk and company had compounded at the end of the canon episode, when someone left a communicator behind.

I decided to use Richard Daniels, Sheilagh Bernstein, and Deirdre Katzman as my part of the cast. These characters would have the specialties needed, e. g. a jack of all trades like Rick, a computers person like Sheilagh, and then Deirdre would be the engineer.

Justin (the bluesman) opted to mainly handle the canon characters as we wrote the story. Together, we weaved a story whereby the plot would be fixed, our characters would happily cross over and work together for a common cause, and we even got to throw in a little humor and flirting along the way. Plus Sheilagh tells Spock his computers are primitive.

Story Postings

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

We had a blast with this collaboration. I would have loved to have done it again. But sadly, Justin passed on, on December 22, 2016.  He was a dear friend and a kind, talented, patient, and generous collaborator. I miss him.

Like this page? Tweet it!


You can find me on .