Portrait of a Character – Varelle

Portrait of a Character – Varelle

Varelle came about as a means of kicking off the queasy feeling you should get when reading The Cure is Worse than the Disease.

Varelle
Scottish Wolfhound puppy representing Varelle (image is presented for educational purposes only).

Origins

First of all, Varelle is a medical character, and he is one of the first Daranaeans ever seen. Furthermore, his refusal to treat an ill Libba (because she is a second caste female) sets not only the plot of The Cure is Worse than the Disease in motion, it also helps to set off the entire Emergence series. Hence, by definition, Varelle is a rather important character.

Portrayal

As is the case with nearly all Daranaean characters, no one really ‘plays’ Dr. Varelle.

Personality

Overly superior and more than a little bit smug, the doctor won’t sully his furry hands treating the lower classes. Just like with Thessa, his behavior helps to really drive the point of the plot home. He is less of a healer and more like one of those people who gets into medicine solely for the purpose of making a lot of money.

Relationships

Dr. Varelle has no known relationships. However, like any other wealthy Daranaean male, he would take a wife from each of the three castes.

Mirror Universe

There are no impediments to this character existing in the Mirror. Daranaeans don’t have the Y Chromosome Skew. However, a doctor could potentially have cachet and be able to afford three wives.

Quote

“Well, she was purchased for nine hundred and thirty Stonds. As for the other one, well; you get what you pay for.”

Upshot

Finally, this character works well and has no redemption like Dr. Rechal does in Flight of the Bluebird. Why? Because some people just plain stay evil.

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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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Progress Report – October 2017

Progress Report – October 2017

October 2017 was another slow month as I had a ton of preparatory work to do for NaNoWriMo, I wanted to do more original writing anyway, and work clobbered me. But by the way, Happy Halloween (AKA Declan‘s birthday)!

Posted Works

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | October 2017
First of all, on Wattpad, I posted Shake Your Body. And I also submitted Atlas for a contest.

And on Fanfiction.net, I posted the end of He Stays a Stranger and started Deep Future, which is the post-Stranger H. G. Wells stories. Since the Wells series is winding down there, I am starting to think about the E2 stories, as they are always fun to write and post. The stories in Deep Future start with It’s Not Really a Reset if you remember it and then The Sweetest Universe and then Eight.

Finally, on the G & T Show forums, I posted nothing as that has never hit a resolution so there is no place to post fan fiction there anymore. And I strongly suspect that that will be the case for the duration.

Milestones

So see the Stats page for individual read and review counts.

WIP Corner

In addition, I worked on some short stories, kind of throwaway fiction tidbits for a possible future writer newsletter. Because if I do start an author newsletter, I am going to need a ton of content and a lot of ways to save time.

Prep Work

Plus I spent time getting the Mettle wiki together for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Furthermore, I spent time working with beta readers on The Real Hub of the Universe. I also edited The Real Heart of the Universe.  Furthermore, I continued to plan out the final work in the trilogy, which might be called The Real Honor of the Universe. It is weird that even I don’t know that!

This Month’s Productivity Killers

Oh God, it was work, work, and more work. So I barely got a breather.

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Portrait of a Character – Thessa

Portrait of a Character – Thessa

Thessa came about as an alien version of the quintessential spoiled, rich hausfrau.

Thessa
Scottish Wolfhound puppy representing Thessa (image is presented for educational purposes only).

Origins

When I first started writing The Cure is Worse than the Disease, I knew I wanted for there to be three wives in a wealthy Daranaean man’s marriage. The secondary, Libba, would end up as the focus of the piece, and the third caste female, Cama, would be little better than a slave. But what could I do with the Prime Wife? In order to create a contrast, this character originally came about as a means of sickening the reader. The idea worked, and the character fulfills her purpose well.

Portrayal

Like nearly all Daranaean characters, no one really ‘plays’ Thessa.

Personality

Imperious, haughty, and privileged, Thessa shows her true colors and bullies Libba and Cama into doing her bidding. However, that’s business as usual for Daranaean Prime Wives. When I came up with the idea of Thessa ordering everyone around, and even clapping her furry hands, and openly and crassly bragging about her price, the image was complete.

Relationships

Thessa’s only possible relationship is with Elemis.

Mirror Universe

There are no impediments to Thessa existing in the Mirror. Daranaeans don’t have the Y Chromosome Skew, but she probably would not be treated any differently. A Prime Wife would be sitting pretty in either universe.

Quote

“I was very expensive.”

Upshot

This character ended up being a huge reason why The Cure is Worse than the Disease works so well. While I do redeem her a bit in Flight of the Bluebird, the truth is that she is meant to be hard to like.

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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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Portrait of a Character – Rechal

Portrait of a Character – Rechal

Rechal worked well as a plot device in Take Back the Night and Flight of the Bluebird.

Rechal
Viszla representing Rechal (image is provided for educational purposes only).

Origins

Because Take Back the Night started off with Inta I’s death at the hands of Arnis, I needed a medical examiner. However, working directly with the coroner would have meant, perhaps, getting to the truth too quickly. Instead, I needed someone who Arnis could bribe with research funding. And then in Flight of the Bluebird, I needed for Trinning to have a colleague with an unsavory past who could be given discovery credit more readily than the steadfast Trava. This character fits the bill rather well for both purposes.

Portrayal

Like most Daranaean characters, no one really ‘plays’ Rechal.

Personality

Dedicated to medicine, but not above cutting a few corners, this character shows an unethical side when he accepts research funding in exchance for keeping quiet about Arnis’s role in Inta I’s death.

Relationships

Dr. Rechal has no known relationships. However, like any wealthy Daranaean male, he would take three wives, one from each caste.

Mirror Universe

There are no impediments to Rechal existing in the Mirror. Daranaeans don’t have the Y Chromosome Skew, but a doctor could conceivably be wealthy and well-connected enough to take three wives.

Quote

“Very well. I will check right now. But if I find it was a boy child, well, you know the consequences.”

Upshot

While writing the Daranaean stories, one theme which emerges can be one of men being evil. And I didn’t want that. Hence, it was great to be able to allow Rechal some measure of redemption in Flight of the Bluebird. As a result, his sentence is commuted, whereas Arnis never gets out of prison.

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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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Spotlight on Medical Original Tech

Spotlight on Medical Original Tech

Medical Original Tech drives plots.

Medical Original Tech

Background

Because technology drives Star Trek, a lot of perfectly acceptable medical technology already exists in canon. However, there is always room for more. Whenever a particular activity needs to accomplishing, that may require the creation and application of original medical technology.

Occurrences

Drug Therapies

From tricoulamine (a nerve gas fatal to humans which can make Klingons sleep, shown in Intolerance) to hyprolanine (used to treat depression during the E2 timeline), I tend to make up new medications when I need them. I do this, rather than rely on canon sources and ideas.

Surgery

In the HG Wells series, Boris Yarin and Marisol Castillo perform a number of necessary surgeries. In these instances, they implant devices into the bodies of the time travelers. The surgical scenes ended up being rather limited in Ohio. However, these procedures require finesse which comes from both mechanical assistance and surgical knowhow. Marisol may be a trained assassin, but she is also a highly skilled surgeon.

Rehabilitation

In the E2 timeline, during the first kick back in time, Ethan Shapiro attempts suicide. As a result, he suffers from brain damage which I intended to mimic the effects of a stroke. Hence, once he awakens from his coma, Dr. Phlox has Ethan try to walk. Because Jay Hayes can whittle and carve, he fashions a wooden cane for Ethan out of wood from one of Botanist Shelby Pike’s Osage orange trees.

Upshot

Medical technology can drive drama when it fails to work as expected or even when it works all too well. Or it can just work as intended sometimes. And developing it provides as many opportunities for creation as anything else does.

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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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Portrait of a Character – Kathalia

Portrait of a Character – Kathalia

Kathalia came about as a counter to Thessa. Not all Daranaean Prime Wives would live as passive-aggressive villainesses.

Kathalia
Image of Italian greyhound dog as Kathalia (image is provided for educational purposes only).

Origins

Because wealthy Daranaean men marry three women, the Emergence stories need a ton of female characters. Furthermore, I loved the euphony of this name, a kind of mix of Katherine or Kathleen and Thalia.

Portrayal

Like the vast majority of Daranaean characters, Kathalia isn’t really ‘played’ by anybody.

Personality

Bubbly, beautiful, and maybe a little overly privileged, Kathalia might have it too easy. Yet that constitutes precisely the idea, that Prime Wives get all of the perks. However, she also has a kind heart, and includes her half-sister, the secondary, Morza, when visiting Cria and in all of her other activities.

Relationships

Trinning

Trinning loves all three of his wives equally, and it shows. While Jamae loved him first, he gives Kathalia and even his third case wife her due. A model of how a loving Daranaean home really should be, Trinning gives this lovely character a truly wonderful life.

Mirror Universe

There exist no impediments to Kathalia existing in the Mirror. Daranaeans don’t have the Y Chromosome Skew, but she probably would not receive different treatment at all. A Prime Wife would do well on either side of the pond.

Quote

“Humans? How interesting. My father says they fought together with us when he battled the Klingons. I am sure they helped him. I should thank them for keeping Father safe.”

Upshot

Delicate Daranaean beauties who can cook will always have advantages. And if they’re also Prime Wives, then the deck is stacked rather heavily in their favor.

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Jespah's Ad Astra Journal Community Site and Star Trek fan fiction site

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