Portrait of a Character – Rayna Montgomery

Portrait of a Character – Rayna Montgomery

Rayna Montgomery spoke to me.


A call was put out, on Trek United, for short stories for a newsletter. I was currently writing more basic fare such as More, More, More!

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Freak School | Rayna Montgomery

Freak School

Then something turned in my head, and I came up with this odd character, a kind of Klingon Valley Girl.

Meet Rayna.


Amanda Seyfried as Rayna Montgomery

Amanda Seyfried as Rayna Montgomery

I like Amanda Seyfried for Rayna, particularly without heavy makeup.

But the truth is, Rayna could be played by a lot of young actresses.  Certainly Kaley Cuoco or Holly Marie Combs would have been fine in their earlier days.


Gawky and out of place, Rayna is as unsure of herself as many teenaged girls are. The difference is that Rayna, being half-Klingon, can do some serious damage if she becomes angered. Failing in school, she is taken out by her concerned parents and is moved from Connecticut to the Archer Academy on Oberon, where troubled hybrid teens can go as a kind of last stop before Juvenile Hall.

But Rayna is also smart, and her poor grades are more a reflection on her not fitting in than on any lack of ability. Once she gets to the Archer Academy, she begins to blossom, particularly in English. But she still can’t quite get the hang of advanced Math. But that’s okay; she’s about to get a tutor.



I haven’t decided whether this will actually go anywhere, but I like the idea of Rayna having a fellow in class who she can relate to, or at least strive for. Because not only does she want to fit in; she also wants to get the guy and, at the same time, defeat her arch-rival, Tellifa.

Mirror Universe

There are really no impediments to Rayna existing in the Mirror Universe.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel |  Amanda Seyfried as Rayna Montgomery (image is for educational purposes only)

Amanda Seyfried as Rayna Montgomery (image is for educational purposes only)

I like to think she’d be more graceful, and maybe even beautiful.

But she’d still be crafty.


“If I had more Klingon in me, I guess I’d be more intimidating, but most of the time I’m just a creampuff with cranial ridges. I swear I have never told anybody that before. Group is useless, but I feel I can at least mention it here.”


I love this character but I really haven’t done enough with her.  After Freak School, she was mainly forgotten, which is a shame. I’ll have to find something to do with her one of these days.

You can find me on .

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Mixing It Up Collection, Portrait, 2 comments

Best Genre Treatment 2

Best Genre Treatment 2

For the best genre treatment 2, let’s take a look at my best stories in four more genres. Hence these are what are (to me) my best Star Trek fan fiction stories in particular writing genres.


There can only be one for the Best Genre Treatment 2.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Concord | Best Genre Treatment 2


While I also love Crackerjack, and all of the HG Wells stories, I believe that, by far, my best historical fiction story is Concord.

I have never, ever worked so hard to get a story right, than I did with Concord.

From its cover (that’s the bridge leading from Lexington to Concord and, yes, there was an engagement on it), to determining whether men would tip their hats to women (yes), to figuring out Colonial Era market prices, to even deciding the name of one of the cows, Concord is an absolute labor of love.

The premise of the story is an interphase: Malcolm is transported to April 1775 Lexington, Massachusetts, and takes the place of an ancestor, just as a future time traveler, during the time of the Genesis Project, takes the place of his own ancestor, who is fighting alongside Malcolm’s ancestor. Injured in the fighting, Malcolm and the time traveler, Robert Lennox, are quartered in a home, where they meet, among other people, Benjamin Warren.


Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Future Matches | Best Genre Treatment 2

Future Matches

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations brings to mind LGBTQ story lines. In this genre, my favorite (which is also a reader favorite) is Detached Curiosity & Idle Speculation.

Working as both a prequel to There’s Something About Hoshi and a sequel to the E2 stories, Detached tells the story of how Dave Constantine and Frank Todd started dating.

With what is almost 20/20 hindsight, the men know that they were together and that their relationship worked out. But it’s still tentative and a little strange. But when they kiss, you want to cheer.


This was easily the most difficult decision, to figure out which was the best of these many stories.  Three stories get an honorable mention here. First is The Reptile Speaks, which is a Gorn romancing a Cardassian.  I loved the idea of putting together a rather different couple, and how someone who looks so menacing could, at bottom, be a truly good person.

Reversal has to be mentioned, as it is not only the love of the dark stranger for the light, but it’s also an amazing kick-off story. A ton of roads lead straight to Reversal.

The Honky Tonk Angel also deserves mention, as it’s another odd couple type of story, as Kevin O’Connor and Jhasi Tantharis go on their first date.

But the winner, the best one (and I might change my mind tomorrow) is The Three of Us .

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Three of Us

The Three of Us

All of the E2 stories were labors of love, but Three is really the big one. That is also due to, in part, its size.

Characters move from misbehaving and acting childishly, to acting criminally, to eventually maturing. Kindness, friendship, and togetherness, lead to more.

As you might expect from such a title, the relationship is an unconventional one.

But the parties persevere, and grow, as time pulls them along and they experience not just romantic love, but also brotherhood, fellowship, parenthood, and, ultimately, tragedy.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Sparrow and the Blue Jay

The Sparrow and the Blue Jay

This image becomes particularly important, and is a part of one of the story’s many high points.

I love this story, from its tentative, scared, damaged people, to its criminals, to its hopefulness, to its sorrow. As Lili O’Day says in Fortune, “There is something there.”


Nothing really comes close to Seven Women, when it comes to tragedy.  From the very start, I tell the reader that Tommy Digiono-Madden is going to die. A fireball is coming, the fire door is shut, and he cannot outrun any of it. He knows this is it. But instead of having his life flash before his eyes, Tommy instead thinks of seven pivotal women in his life. They range from the three women he called mother, to his first girlfriend, and more.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Seven Women

Seven Women

This was a character I had only written little snippets of, and very few as an adult.  As readers got to know Tommy, so did I. The best decision I made in that story was to not bow to internal pressure to give him a happy ending.

Spoiler alert: he doesn’t get one.


The best romance story was easily the hardest of these decisions to make. Tune in; I may do this again next year.

Posted by jespah in Meta, Review, 6 comments

Best Genre Treatment 1

Best Genre Treatment 1

I  write in all sorts of genres. Hence I have put together what I think are my best treatments of them. This is in conjunction with all of the story reviews I have been posting, and future reviews.

I have written a good 200 or so stories. Choosing what is ‘best’ is subjective and certainly my ideas change over time. These stories are not necessarily the ones with the greatest reads or review counts. Sometimes it’s just the best in my mind. I don’t always agree with my readership.


One of my favorite genres to write, comedy speaks to me.

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before | Best Genre Treatment 1

Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before

I love to make people laugh, but I also don’t want to create mindless slapstick.  This is why I love Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before.

From the amusing title, to its start as Chip Masterson is busted by Deb Haddon for keeping Tripp‘s stuffed gerbil toy, Stella,  to their romance, to Chip’s nascent to friendship with Aidan, the story celebrates a number of below decks themes.

Canon characters abound, as the story is also one big shout-out to the canon First Flight episode. Jonathan Archer, Liz Cutler, AG Robinson, Soval, and Admiral Forrest all show up.  There are even very brief cameos by T’Pol and Jay Hayes.

The basic premise is a prank war. This all happens during the invention and perfection of inertial dampers. This canon piece of equipment is about the dullest bit of Star Trek technobabble, so it was the perfect backdrop for a ton of hijinks. After all,  this would mainly bore the inventors (it’s a competition). They would be itching for something to do.

And then there’s the goat ….


Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Saturn Rise | Best Genre Treatment 1

Saturn Rise

I write a ton of drama and it can sometimes be difficult to sustain. Right now, today, as I write this blog post, I feel that one of my better, if not my best such stories, is Saturn Rise.

I had wanted to not only showcase more of Pamela and Treve’s relationship, but also to attempt to resolve some of the unfinished business in Intolerance, Temper, and Fortune.

Further, I wanted Malcolm to have to deal with introducing his parents to Lili, and possibly risk their disapproval.  Done within the context of introducing them to Declan, I also wanted to present an alternate point of view regarding the acceptance – or not – of Lili and Doug‘s open marriage.

Just as Pamela has to have it out with her mother, Malcolm has to have it out with his parents.


One of the first Star Trek fan fiction stories I ever completed, The Light covers Chanukah on the NX-01 and a lot more.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Light | Best Genre Treatment 1

The Light

As Ethan Shapiro learns of his great-aunt’s death, young Jewish crew members are brought together. Part of this is to properly mourn the woman’s death, but another reason is a budding romance, as Andrew Miller is looking to ask out Karin Bernstein.

I introduced not only these original characters (plus Josh Rosen), but also covered the subject of the existence of a Starfleet Rabbi, Leah Benson. Because I love these characters so much, they all have fan fiction futures. And this includes Mirror Universe stories, as they meet dissimilar fates. Leah in particular is very different on the other side of the proverbial pond.


Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Day of the Dead | Best Genre treatment 1

I have never been a fan of slamming doors, zombies, things going bump in the night, etc. Plus I don’t like them as stories or films. I just plain don’t like terror for my entertainment. Hence I hit upon an idea, and that was to show what I feel is far, far worse. And that’s the Holocaust.

Taking place over the course of Halloween weekend, Tucker, a classic horror film buff, has helped Chip line up several classic horror movies. October 31st gets the old John Carpenter film.

Canon characters such as Phlox and Amanda Cole sit through the picture, as do a number of my own original characters.  And then Tucker disappears.

As a crossover story, he’s whisked to 1945 Upper Bavaria, and becomes a part of the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, which includes freeing Milena Chelenska, her sister, and their neighbor. Furthermore, he witnesses a war crime. This is where the managers of the camp (by this time – true story – they were mainly just kids, as the real management had fled) are shot to death by firing squad, without trials.

It turns out that he’s been interphased rather deliberately, as Wesley Crusher and the Traveler work to get him back, thereby neatly tying into Crackerjack.


Beyond the fact that I think these stories are some of my best work, my peers have agreed. Where No Gerbil Has Gone Before and Day of the Dead are both award winners.

Posted by jespah in Meta, Review, 8 comments