Personal, or, Thank You to Fan Fiction

Thank You to Fan Fiction

Thank you.

Thank you for your kind support.

And thank you from me.

To you, the readers. To the professionals who create this great show, and to anyone who has stumbled across my blog and my work, even if you didn’t care for it.

Thank you anyway.

An Announcement

But now it’s time to scale back, big time.

Because I just cannot do this anymore.

This does not mean I stop posting! Oh, no. It’s more that a monthly blog post and even the twice weekly posts are just not going to happen anymore. Not unless things change rather drastically in my life. And I would rather they did not.

So, what does this mean, really?

The Future

Life has changed for me, big time. If you have been following my journey at all, then you will have seen how I grew from someone who could not wait to fling fan fiction goodness out to the ether, to someone with writer’s block. And a published author as well. And an avid NaNoWriMo participant as well.

I also got a job in there. In January, I will have been blogging here for six years. Holy cow! I think I’ve only worked at a job once for longer than that, no lie.

So I was bound to change. And here is how things are changing.

My Blogging Plans

It will take a lot – and I mean A LOT – for me to write any more fan fiction of any sort. It’s not that I don’t care for it. I love it! But I’ve grown beyond it.

However, there is still plenty to post at both and Wattpad. I will run out of new fanfiction to post at long before I run out on Wattpad. So I estimate I will finish on this year. As for Wattpad, maybe in 2019? I’m not sure.

Hence this blog will scale back to only once every quarter for these progress updates. I’ll have more to write about per post, which should presumably be of more interest. And I will be able to save some time.

Some musings on creativity

I have written well over a million words of fan fiction (I haven’t tallied up every single story but I will). That’s a lot of words. However, writers are often told that our first million or so words are garbage. I had written perhaps a total of 100,000 before I got to Star Trek fan fiction writing, so I like to think I hit my stride right about the time 2014 or 2015 started.

This is just about when Untrustworthy was accepted for publication, so I suppose that works. I also wrote Revved Up during this period, and I revisited the Obolonks and continued and finished their story. I even went to graduate school and created a Facebook author page.

As for fan fiction, that was about the time that I mainly worked on the Barnstorming series with a few short stories in the HG Wells universe but nothing else and that’s pretty much the way it’s been ever since.

Original Work

Untrustworthy isn’t really the gold standard, but it was published so there’s that. I truly think I have gotten better and I can really see the seams in that work now.  One thing that has proved fascinating is that folks from Europe seem to prefer it. Perhaps I should market it there more aggressively.

The Obolonks could use an overhaul. I know that trilogy drags in spots. The Enigman Cave has been professionally edited – and that was kind of costly – so I would like to get it out there, somewhere. I may end up self-publishing that one. A big thank you to Roberta, the best editor in the multiverse.

The Real Hub of the Universe is a good series but it needs an ending. And Mettle needs an ending, too. But those are both far better. If I shop another story to publishers, it will be either Mettle or I will try for the Hub series. We’ll see.

2018 Writing Plans

I fully intend to change the way I write and submit. To that end, these are my plans although work and life might derail them, and they probably will.

  • Write like for NaNoWriMo every odd-numbered month, and keep a tally. These would be short stories and longer form pieces.
  • Write like Ray Bradbury, which is – you just get out 2,000 words or so every single day no matter how you’re feeling. Fortunately, I have a jar of writing ideas and a ton of prompts. This would, again, only be during the odd-numbered months.
  • Spend the even-numbered months doing all the ancillary stuff – editing, researching, querying, and promoting.
  • Cultivate more beta readers and work closely with them. I have a few but what I would really love is a writing partner, someone who I can trade with regularly. But those can be a lot like a marriage. It’s not easy to find a writing soulmate, as it were.
  • Get something else professionally edited, and that something is probably going to be Mettle if I can get it finished and beta read. If not, then I might get started on the Hub series. I’m not sure.
  • Get together a great 2018 NaNoWriMo book. That might turn out to be the third Hub book.

Apple Carts Were Meant to Be Upset

Yeah, about all those plans? Who knows how well I’ll be able to do any of them.

Work is reportedly going to go a lot closer to full-time. I have been enjoying only working about 20 – 25 hours per week but that may have to change.

My other issue is family stuff, and to see what happens with my elderly parents and mother in law. Of course I am hoping for the best all around.

As for my own health, it’s better than it was a few years ago.


This is where I leave you – temporarily – with possibilities. My next post will be the progress report for this month, and then nothing until the end of March. Onward and sideways. Or as characters have said:

  • “Let’s go steal from the nuns.” – Elise Jeffries, Mettle.
  • “We communicate in stories. And so I want to tell you this one.” – Marnie Shapiro, The Enigman Cave.
  • “Have courage, Ceilidh Aisling. Muster up those reserves from when you first left for America.” – Ceilidh O’Malley, The Real Heart of the Universe.

See you soon.

Posted by jespah in Meta, original, 2 comments

Lessons from Fan Fiction

Personal Background

I have been writing (with considerable time off), in some form or another, for the past 4 1/2 decades, no exaggeration. My initial writings were crudely drawn images in old calendar books that would have otherwise been discarded. Inevitably, they were all about more or less the same thing – anthropomorphized dogs going on adventures.

I used to own (many of them are still in my parents’ house) little plastic farm animal toys.

English: Two plastic animals (a sheep and a st...

English: Two plastic animals (a sheep and a st…

Many of these came from my father’s business trips to Munich, and they were fairly well detailed. When not drawing picture books, I would play act stories for these toys. Usually, it was some sort of journey.

The toys still exist, but the old calendar books are long gone, in some landfill somewhere (they were discarded before recycling was really mainstream).

As a teenaged girl, I had diaries, but all of those are also gone to a landfill. I did not get back to writing anything resembling fiction until my senior year in High School, when I had an AP English teacher who encouraged such things. I took Creative Writing in college, and a Law School boyfriend also encouraged me to write. Then I set it all aside until maybe 2000 when I did some short works and then started writing fan fiction in 2004.

After a few more short works, I set it aside until 2010. Ever since starting up again (with Reversal), I have written something pretty much every day, whether it’s Star Trek: fan fiction, wholly original works, blogging and/or fiction outlining.

Lessons Learned (in no particular order)

Write to keep writing

While I suffer from writer’s block, just like every other writer, I suffer from it less than I probably should, because I make an effort to write nearly every single day. This keeps it all going.

Take and Keep Notes

I have a large timeline for fan fiction, spanning a few millennia. I have other timelines for wholly original fictional universes. These are kept with MS Excel. Timelines are incredibly useful, as you immediately know things like ages, and if character lifetimes overlap.

Fiction Stacks

Fiction Stacks

I keep wikis (more like informal detailed outlines, as I am the sole contributor) for all major series, and separate ones for wholly original fiction. These are for world-building, and they contain everything from character heights to birthdays to naming conventions for various items. It’s all decided once and the references are at my fingertips.

I also keep a list of plot ideas, which also contains possible titles, species ideas, possible character names, etc. (Eriecho was originally going to be Klingon). This ‘parks’ new ideas so that I can concentrate better on the story I am trying to finish.

Don’t Throw Anything Away

Character names from 1986 have shown up in fiction written in 2011, no lie. A quarter-century later, and in a different universe, the names still work.

Your Work Should be Shared

I belong to several writers’ groups online, both for fan fiction and for wholly original work.

Fan fiction in the making

Fan fiction in the making

There are a lot of people who are terrified of sharing their work with others. These are not people holding back because it’s work they want to try to have published. They just plain aren’t ready to share anything.

And that’s unfortunate, as their work can stagnate with no feedback. Fiction isn’t meant to be hidden away, locked in a drawer somewhere.


Constructive Criticism is Gold

English: Crystaline Gold

English: Crystaline Gold (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyone providing constructive criticism of any sort is fantastic. Being told that I need to define a character better, or provide more details, or that a scenario is not credible – any and all of these criticisms makes me a better writer. Learning to take constructive criticism graciously was an enormous lesson I have learned.


Destructive Criticism is Dirt

While not everyone will love what I have written, I’ve learned to separate critiques into constructive and destructive, and can tell the difference.

Vermont dirt, up close.

Vermont dirt, up close.

There are those who go into reading a fan fiction who are biased against a particular series, or character or character pairing, etc. They might dislike a certain plot point (e. g. not everyone likes time travel), or they just might dislike all fan fiction.

Most of what these folks say is not worth reading, or repeating. Fortunately, I haven’t run into too many of these folks in my travels.

As for those who engage in personal attacks, they should be blocked without a second thought. No one needs to be trashed in order to be effectively critiqued. Ever.

Do Your Research

In one of my first-ever fan fictions (There’s Something About Hoshi), I misspelled MACO as MAKO, and was corrected by a reader. At the time, I was overly sensitive and felt it was petty. I have since come to realize that of course this person was correct, and they were only trying to help me get better.

Pay it Forward by Reading and Reviewing Others’ Work

Sitting back and expecting everyone else to do the heavy lifting of reading and reviewing is pretty selfish. Writers, of course, should take care not to steal from each other, or plagiarize. But the building, nurturing, and sustaining of writer communities means that you, the writer, need to also become the reader, and the critic. Always be a constructive critic.

Practice and Edit

Not writing does not make you a better writer. Only writing, and reading, can make you a better writer. So do both.

Don’t Crowdsource Your Ideas

I see this a lot, where potential writers, terrified that they have a bad idea, ask their peers for a judgment about whether something is a ‘good’ idea.

This is bass-ackwards. Instead, writers should be writing. Their ideas are, likely, perfectly fine. Why do I say this? Because most ideas are fine; it’s their execution that demonstrates quality, or the lack thereof. Consider the following story idea.



A suddenly disabled man is late for work one morning. Ignoring his new infirmity, he tries to go to work, as he is the sole supporter of his mostly ungrateful family. When they become, by necessity, more independent, they abuse and neglect him and, unappreciated, he eventually dies. They go on without him.

Don’t know that plot? It’s Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, easily one of the top 100 (if not 50) works of fiction ever written. Ever!

But that plot summary isn’t too promising, eh? It’s in the execution where Gregor Samsa comes to life.

Your ideas are fine, except for the idea that you need others’ approval before you can start writing. Nonsense! Write anyway.

You’re Better Than You Think

Unless you are out and out plagiarizing someone else’s work, there is probably someone out there who will like your writing. That leads to my next point.

Find Your Ideal Audience

Sites which cater to, say, only Star Trek: Enterprise will not appreciate Star Trek: Voyager fan fiction as well as sites that focus on it. That may seem obvious, but it’s a point that people sometimes seem to miss. If your work isn’t being read, try other sites. You might do better elsewhere.

Fix Your Technical Problems Before Posting

Always look over spelling, punctuation, capitalization, word choice (e. g. make sure you are using the right words, and they mean what you think they do), and grammar. A few stray errors are fine, but try to fix most of it before posting. This is a courtesy to your readers.

Not Everyone Wants to read your entire Saga

Readers’ time is as precious a your own.



Their not wanting to read your entire 10 million word saga is less a reflection on your abilities (or their love of your work), and more on their own busy lives.

Expecting your audience to read your entire saga is a discourtesy; you are not being respectful of their time. Respect their time by mixing in some short stories as most people can find the time to read something less than 10,000 words (even better, less than 5,000).

Compete With your Peers

This ups your game considerably. Put yourself out there, and don’t expect to win. Competitions are also a great way to get more people to read and review your work.

Keep Track of your Stats

You don’t have to be as analytical as I am, but it pays to at least have a handle on what’s popular, and what isn’t. These findings will probably differ from site to site, and having objective data means you’ll have a better idea of whether a story will go over well or poorly at a particular site.

Use Your Time Wisely

We all have lives, so writing time often has to be rationed. Determine what you want and need, and how well various sites satisfy those wants and needs. Do an informal cost-benefit analysis – does a site offer ease of posting? Better critiquing? A bigger audience? A better-matched audience to your work?

Build a Readership

Book reader

Book reader

When I learned I was going to be published, I told pretty much everyone in my network. A lot of people said they were excited about potentially seeing my wholly original work in print. This is not only ego-gratifying, it’s also, potentially, a source of reads (and even sales) and reviews for professional work. I’m not saying to become a writing mercenary.

Rather, cultivate and nurture your most loyal fans.

That doesn’t just mean being kind to them (which should be a given), and thanking them (another given); it also means listening to them. Do they want to see more original characters? A new horror story? More time travel? Do they think your last book dragged in the middle? Take them seriously. They are really trying to help you succeed. Let them.


I have come a long way from picture books that I showed to no one, and stories that I left to rot in a trunk and are no more. Fan fiction has improved me as a writer, and has taught me to believe in myself. It has led me to becoming a published author. I owe it a lot.

Thank you.

You can find me on .

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Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Inspiration-Mechanics, Meta, 6 comments

Reviews, a Love/Hate Affair

In the continuing saga of looking at Boldly Reading blog prompts, we have the second such prompt about Star Trek fanfiction (and, really, about any other kind of writing, for that matter) – what do you like to see in a review of your work? what do you comment upon yourself in a review? has a received view changed your opinion on a story you wrote or were writing? and finally, has a review sold or warned you off another author‘s story?

The Good

Everybody loves good reviews. They make us feel warm, happy and special. They pull us up when we’re feeling low. Good vibes all around.

thumbs up!

thumbs up!

But really short good reviews (e. g. I loved it!) are nice but they are dissatisfying. It’s like a half a sip of really good coffee. Hence, whether I read a review or I write one, I feel that a good review should have a little more depth than that. Why is the story so beloved?

Here are a few ideas –

  • Are the original characters believable and multidimensional? Do you, the reader, understand who they are, their motivations and back stories? The answer does not necessarily have to be yes to all of these questions, by the way, but what is it about the original characters that grabs you?
  • Are the canon characters well portrayed? If they step out of character, is that explained in a satisfying manner? Can you, the reader, hear the canon character’s voice in your head, saying these words? Can you see the canon character performing these actions?
  • What’s the driver of the events? Is it a new ship or person? A conflict? A discovery? A problem that needs solving? A mystery? Was the situation believably introduced, showcased and wrapped up?
  • Where is (are) the climax(es) in the story? What is it leading to? Is it the logical release of the build-up that has occurred throughout the story?
  • How have the characters or the situation changed by the end of the story? If the story was a reset, does the resetting to the beginning make sense?

The Bad

Sometimes, a story does not completely work, but there are redeemable elements of it. When that happens, I think it’s time for suggestions. And again, a short review is not too much help. Authors need to learn (and be nice about this!) how to improve their works. It is possible to help someone become better, and writers should take the suggestions in the spirit in which they should be given.



  • I thought ___ was a bit of a hand wave. If you were rewriting the story today, how would you correct that and add more drama to that element?
  • ___ is incorrect, per (cite research). Are you looking to write an alternate reality?
  • I loved your characters but I thought the situation didn’t quite suit them. Do you have other stories with these characters?
  • I thought the situation was compelling, but I’m unsure about the placement of the characters in it. Do you have stories with similar situations, but different characters?

The Ugly

Sometimes, it’s just … oh God. You feel like sowing the ground around someone’s computer with salt. What to do?

thumbs down :(

thumbs down 🙁

One option is to simply not review at all. After all, even in a review hunt challenge, you could forego the points and just bow out of reviewing. But that does not help the author get better. Can they get better? It’s a definite maybe. There are people who take suggestions to heart. And there are others who might accept the suggestions later. Then again, there are also people who think that everything they write is so wonderful that you must be the problem.

  • Try to find something positive to say, anything! Did they get a canon character’s voice right at all? Was the situation unique? Were there any memorable lines?
  • Once again, constructive criticism is the way to go. Be specific and detailed, but also be kind. E. g. a review that says, In canon, Scotty is not an Eskimo, and I’m just not so sure I’m buying him as one. I think that’s specific, and it does not trash the author or attack them personally. Hey, someone else might be convinced, but you, the reader, are not.
  • Are they new to writing? Maybe comment on the maturation process in writing. This is not to say that you insult people by suggesting that no one under the age of 40 can write, or that you need a decade’s worth of experience to be any good. Rather, you can suggest that continued writing, over time, often changes and hones one’s style.
  • Out and out plagiarism should not be rewarded, of course.

As for me, I look at the number of reviews I get, and the number of reads. For short stories with no reviews and a high read count, that raises a red flag with me. But for longer stories with no reviews, it’s less of a flag, as there are plenty of longer stories that people just don’t stay with. It’s not necessarily due to the quality of the writing. Sometimes that’s just due to readers’ personal schedules.

And I can’t say that I love criticism, but I am a writer and I expect it and I understand it. People have told me that something looked like a hand wave, or that they couldn’t stick with something. I think that’s fine, and that tells me where to improve, and tighten things up. But I do have an ego and, like everyone else, it can sometimes be bruised.

So I ask, if you hate it, and you still choose to provide a review, I do hope you won’t just trash me. And I vow to you that I will do the same.

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Posted by jespah in Boldly Reading, Fan fiction, Meta, 4 comments

What Do I Like to Read?

As a part of The Twelve Trials of Triskelion, the program is coming to an end, but we on Ad Astra are looking to keep it up. As a result, we’re looking to expand blogging. And now there’s a new book club, called Boldly Reading, with its own blog!

So – the first prompt is – what do you like to read? what fanfic story type/era/character and heck even name an author here you gush over do you like to read?

And so I’ve gotten to thinking.


I’ve realized that while I love the Star Trek Enterprise and The Original Series eras, that doesn’t necessarily define what I seek out. More often, I go looking for a good story, and then whether it fits into my own personal era preference doesn’t truly factor into it. Good stories are good stories.

I also have great respect for people who put themselves out there for the challenges, in particular, the monthly challenges. For newer authors in particular, it has got to be daunting. It presents the old what if they don’t like me? fear that I suspect all authors have inside us.

Once I’ve read a challenger (even if they don’t win, and even if I didn’t love their story), I try to look at more of their works. Sometimes people are just off, and one story didn’t hit its marks but that doesn’t mean that others won’t. But if I’m disappointed enough times (and I can’t honestly say exactly when that moment occurs, but I know it when I see it), I’m done, unless it’s for a monthly challenge. Then I’ll read all of the entries because I don’t think I can vote in good conscience without reading all of that month’s entries. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to love the author who has disappointed me. Unfairly or not, that person now has more of a hurdle to climb over in order to get my love. But it’s not an impossible hurdle.


For authors not involved in monthly challenges, I am looking for good characters. I love action sequences, but the truth is, they’re hard to write. Sometimes what you’re thinking of just does not translate well to pixels. But characters can. Someone who is not a Mary Sue. Someone who isn’t just described in some huge data dump as if the author were picking the character out from a police lineup. Someone who I can hate or love or be repulsed by or laugh with or at or want to hug or kick. Someone who stays with me.

Give it up for Templar Sora!

One author whose works I have loved pretty much from the beginning has been Templar Sora.

Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two of his characters I have particularly enjoyed are Jessica St. Peter and Seymour Sonia. Jess is an unlikely leader, a person thrust into the role when everyone around her falls down on the job or is too scared or damaged or inexperienced to step in. And, as a young leader, she deals with something that a lot of young leaders in fan fiction never seem to have to deal with – insubordination by people who think she should not have her place.

Enter Seymour Sonia, the consummate jerk. Everything from hitting on Jess (before she gets a command) to openly being hostile to her, he’s a fun character to despise. The beauty of this character is his passive-aggressive nature. I have found that often jerk characters are written as utterly one-dimensionally, as authors might feel they have to stack their decks. After all, who could possibly hate a Starfleeter?

Try me.


I love a lot of what I’m reading. But to really hit the stratosphere, give me a character where all I want to do when I see him in a scene is yell, “Bite me!”

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Posted by jespah in Boldly Reading, Fan fiction, Meta, 4 comments

Whither Trek? And whither me? AKA where am I going, and why am I in this handbasket?

Whither Trek? And whither me? AKA where am I going, and why am I in this handbasket?

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

Whither Trek? And whither me? AKA where am I going, and why am I in this handbasket?

Gaguin – Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

Gaguin – Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

When I set out to first write this little trilogy of blog posts about Star Trek fanfiction, I thought about this particular painting quite a bit. I have told you who I am, and where I (and, to some extent, Trek) come from. But where are we going?

The Cloudy Crystal Ball

Of course I have little to no idea of what’s going to happen next.

Whither Trek? And whither me? AKA where am I going, and why am I in this handbasket?

Cloudy crystal ball

And that has never, ever stopped me from speculating.

After all, Star Trek itself is dreams and visions of the future. Some, like communicators and desktop computers, have been scarily accurate.

Others, like tricorders and bio beds, are close to accurate, or are within reach.

And then others, like warp drive, the Third World War, the Augments, etc.?

Not so much.

What’s Next?

For Star Trek, there is likely to be a third film in the JJ Abrams universe, and it will likely come on or around 2016 as that is the 50th anniversary of the TV series. Abrams will not be directing it. It will be interesting to see who gets it. For me, the JJ Abrams universe means more Eriecho.

As for a new series, I imagine there will be one, and it will likely be in the post-Nemesis future, but closer to the JJ Abrams style. It will depend on budgets and audience tastes. Enterprise was given a fairly large budget, but it was still difficult to get across everything that needs to be done and shown within financial restrictions.  At the time, their ratings were not considered to be good. Now, they would be perfectly acceptable.

Any future television series will likely have an even bigger budget than ENT did, and will likely depend more upon green screen technology in order to cut some special effects corners. What is troubling about that is that large budgets mean that ever larger audiences are needed in order for a show to make money. But television audiences are becoming more and more splintered all the time.

Unless this speculative future show has a lot of network brass (and money) backing it, it could very well be set up for failure, much as ENT seems to have been. Science fiction on TV these days is generally not big, beautiful ships. Even Firefly (which is a decade old, by the way) had a lot of set pieces that took place on the ground. It saves money.

So I would expect to see, and would actually hope to see, a series more character-driven and more plot-driven. A series where makeup and costumes and sets matter. A series where acting and writing are top-notch, not only because they are beloved and respected and say something meaningful and win awards but also because, for real, they save network money. A series where the effects exist but don’t overpower the story line and are not the engines that drive character and plot arc decisions.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Meta, 0 comments

What is it Now?

 What the hell? What is it now?

Now, as a sequel to Where Did it All Begin?, I’d like to give a little information on where I am now, and where Star Trek is, from my own perspective.

Me, Now

Barking up the Muse Tree | Jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | What is it Now

Me, 2017

This image was taken in 2017 and it’s more or less an accurate representation of the real-life jes.

I turn fifty-five in September of 2017.

My Own Personal Fandom

Given my age, you’d think I’d be a big TOS fan. And, while I am a fan (and I recall seeing at least some of it in what was likely first run), my heart really belongs more to ENT. I love it for its closeness to us, its passion, its flawed characters who change and grow, and the fact that the tech is far from perfect.

Plus I know the many, many flaws in ENT. I have had them pointed out to me numerous times (so many people seem to love doing that). Still and all, I enjoy it immensely.

Beyond ENT

TOS and TAS (I really put them together) are second for me. I like the drama and the writing, much of which was really terrific. The effects and animation are abysmal, and the costumes and makeup aren’t too good, either, so a lot of the tension comes about from the acting and the writing. I also enjoy the social commentary in a lot of the stories. And, much like in ENT, there are real senses of danger there. You do sometimes wonder if/how they’re going to make it.

I suppose TNG comes in at third for me, and more because of the trio of Wesley, Geordi and Data. I also like Beverly, and I like Miles and Keiko. Picard is … okay. I am not a rabid, screaming fan girl about Patrick Stewart although I certainly appreciate his talent. But I do feel that the ship was too huge and luxurious, and a lot of hazards were bred out of the experience. As Q says (and I like him, too), space is dangerous. And they (and we) should not forget that. As for Riker, the less said, the better.

If I had to select a fourth, it would probably be, really, VOY. I like the generalized idea of it. Travel stories have been around since the Odyssey andThe Canterbury Tales, and probably before then, too. But I tend to like only isolated bits, and they are usually the parts that other people don’t care for at all.


Then, it’s a tie between the films and DS9. The films are okay and I have not seen all of them – I haven’t even seen more than bits of The Wrath of Khan. Some moments in various films stand out – the trial on Kronos and imprisonment on Rura Penthe, T’Saavik emotionlessly reporting David Marcus’s death, saving the whales, Zefram Cochrane doing his thing, and even Kirk’s death (I love how it was small and non-heroic, because the end of life is far more likely to be like that). But then there’s tons that’s just meh to me, from the overly-loving closeups of the Enterprise in the first film, to the Sybok wackiness of the fifth film.

I don’t hate the 2009 film and I do believe it’s Trek (and I find it weird sour grapes for people to declare that it isn’t Star Trek because they don’t like it. Tough, it’s Trek, get over it now). But it’s not a fave. It’s … okay. I am not a fan of pure action flicks and it was pretty close to that. Also, I have not yet seen Into Darkness. I loved Star Trek Beyond.

As for Deep Space Nine, I’ve always had trouble getting into it. I like Louise Fletcher as Kai Winn, and I like Dr. Bashir. Plus I like the idea of the Trill. After that, I get a meh vibe. Sorry to those who love it.

My Writing

I got into writing Star Trek fanfiction in 2005 and then promptly gave it up for five years. During that time period, my attitude changed considerably, and then suddenly it was October of 2010 and I was spinning Reversal out of whole cloth. And it became a monster that launched two big series and tons of stories, and, no lie, hundreds of thousands of words.

Including, of course, this blog and its accompanying website.

I am writing, or I am thinking about writing nearly every single day.

Others’ Fan Fiction

I generally enjoy reading others’ works although time doesn’t always permit that I really look super-closely. I try to give a story a chance, at least for a while. For a 60+ chapter story, that might be five to eight chapters. And for a 20,000 word story, it might be only one or two chapters. For a less than 10,000 word story, it will probably be the entire thing.

I make an effort to go out of my comfort zone and read stories that take place in eras or on ships that I do not know. That often means Deep Space Nine although it can also mean various expanded universes. There are so many missing pieces in canon that it is very possible to set an entire universe within the missing bits, and that’s even how In Between Days was originally going to be.

Constructive critiques

I also make an effort to constructively critique so, yeah, that can sometimes mean that my reviews are less than perfectly positive. If I feel isn’t an accurately portrayal of a canon character, I try to alert the writer. I have had that pointed out to me before, and I usually use it as a means of reverse-engineering some sort of an explanation. After all, there are times when people behave out of character, and it’s not always mold spores or radiation or the like. Sometimes it’s grief, or loneliness, or drugs or just a desire to shake things up.

For More, More, More! one critique was that Malcolm likely would not be helping to arrange the party. But I decided, no, he would be, as he would prefer an organized means of fraternizing with his shipmates and the NX-02, as opposed to the chance element inherent in more casual contact. I reverse-engineered in the explanation in the sequel story, On the Radio. This not only fixed what wasn’t necessarily that big a problem, it also added a little more depth to the subsequent tale.

As for original characters, a lot of people, when they are inexperienced, tend to either stick just with a kind of canon alternative (which is what Doug Beckett was originally) or they are golden children of canon (more or less a type of canon alternate – Jia Sulu was a little like that) or they are out and out Mary Sues (Lili can be borderline at times, but her overall arc isn’t, and I work hard to keep her out of that zone). A few thoughts on that, if I may.

Mary Sue, How Do You Do?

Consider the following characteristics – beauty, intelligence, social ease, heroism and physical prowess of any sort. How many of these characteristics does your character have? Lili, for example, has intelligence and social ease. Pamela has beauty and intelligence. Doug has intelligence and physical prowess, and eventually has heroism. Malcolm and Jay both have intelligence and physical prowess, usually mixed with heroism. Blair has beauty, intelligence and social ease. But nobody’s got all of these characteristics.

And that’s the idea. Characters, like people, should not be perfect in every way. This goes for villains as well as heroes (so substitute the term villainy for heroism, above). For those five main traits, one or two are fine, and three are okay but may be pushing it. Four is really starting to push it. All five strains credulity to the breaking point. I see far too many original characters who can do no wrong and are in the five zone.

Elevator Pitch

I also try to get a sense from an author (and if I can ask him or her, all the better) about an elevator pitch-style story. I pay attention not only to what they suggest, but also to elements like the story’s length. After all, if you feel that I won’t understand your universe without reading 100,000 words, you aren’t necessarily showing a lot of respect for my time and interest level.

I have time to read fan fiction, yes. I concede the point. And it doesn’t have to be a drabble and we’re done. I do have a longer attention span than that. But my time is not infinite. I wish it was but, alas, it is not. If I read your 100,000 words, sight unseen, that will take up a pretty significant chunk of my time. You are telling me that we cannot date, and the only way I will know you is to get married. For a decade.

Hence I now try to keep the idea of an elevator pitch in mind, and can easily single out three stories of mine that fit that bill – The Light, The Cure is Worse than the Disease, and Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions. All three are fairly short and are completely self-contained. The reader does not need to know the remainder of my mythos in order to understand them but, if the reader does go back and read that, he or she will get another dimension on each of these stories. I don’t present this idea as a perfect one, but I do hope that other authors will at least consider something like that. It’s just easier for the reader.


My own fandom experience has changed over time. In particular, as now I have read others’ original stories, characters, ships and eras, or their original takes on canon characters, ships, eras and situations, I have changed my appreciation of overall canon. Beverly Crusher, for me, is a bit of an empty nester, but also a smart amateur detective. Montgomery Scott is damaged and withdrawn, but fiercely loyal, and a badass in the Mirror Universe. The relationship between Kirk and Spock transcends traditional bonds of fellowship, but not as slash. TOS era situations come to life and are expanded upon, to great effect.

Utter Originality

And now completely original series have expanded my mind. A crew gets a shot at bringing everything back and re-gluing shattered pieces. Cadets from before the ENT era come through the  other side of the Third World War and its aftermath. The aftermath of the Dominion War ripples throughout the Alpha Quadrant, the Vorta and their allies, the Cardassians, and the Tal’Shiar; and a human and a Cardassian fall in loveVoyager‘s journey is enhanced by a look at peripheral characters who really should have been more in the forefront.

Deep Space Nine and its environs see changes over time as characters age and  become renewed. A completely non-canon ship and crew stay barely on this side of the law as their collective bacon is placed into the fire again and again. A young officer begins her career lurching among assignments. A cliffhanger serial has a new installment nearly every week. And the Border Patrol has a far more interesting life than you might think.

Fandom has allowed me to step into a number of fascinating and beautiful worlds. I can only hope that what I have created is one-tenth as entertaining for my own readers. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations – now those are words to live by.

Posted by jespah in Meta, 0 comments

Where Did it all Begin?


A Google search for “meta Star Trek” turns up all sorts of weird stuff, so I’m just going to put this image of various incarnations of the Enterprise up instead.

A bunch of Enterprises

A bunch of Enterprises

Just like no one is born knowing a language, I don’t suppose you’re born a Trekker. Trekkie. Something like that.

I think we’re made. Fandom is a product of the time and your environment. So let me let you, dear reader, of my environment and my time and I suppose you can then judge for yourself.

The ’60s

I could lie and tell you I was engaging in free love, protesting the Vietnam War and marching in Selma.

Or I could tell you the truth, that I was born in late 1962 and don’t really have a clear memory of any current events until about 1967 or 1968 or so as I rather vividly recall hearing on a radio that a heart transplant had been successfully performed. I also remember the Moon landing. We had horrible reception, so it was fuzzy and strange, and that made it all the more mysterious.

MTV on the Moon

MTV on the Moon

Seriously, I first saw a clear image of the Moon landing when MTV initially started broadcasting.

I also remember seeing the Vietnam War on TV, often during dinner. I don’t remember the specifics of it so much, and maybe I was shielded from them and certainly the worst of it wasn’t broadcast, anyway. But I do remember it, out there, naked, for all to see, and wonder about.

Star Trek in the ’60s

I remember watching TOS. Some of it was first-run, and some was in what were likely the first rounds of reruns. I was also watching Lost in Space at the time, and The Outer Limits (I recall having nightmares about one episode). I don’t think The Twilight Zone was in reruns at the time, in southeastern Pennsylvania, which is where my family lived then.

One rather big difference I noticed between Lost in Space and TOS was that the women on Lost in Space did laundry and cooked. There seemed to be an unending supply of space laundry. Will Robinson got to do cool stuff and have adventures (and get into trouble), and Penny did, too. But, in the end, Will got to tinker on the ship or talk to the robot. Penny did the dishes.

Things were not like that on the NCC-1701. And while Uhuru was, in many ways, a glorified receptionist, and Rand was a glorified secretary (and Chapel the RN was in another traditionally female role), at least they did things. I’m still not so sure how their space laundry was done, but none of them seemed to be in a hot hurry to take care of it at the end of a day. And they generally did not cook for, or serve, the captain or Mr. Spock, etc.

I was surprised to see Uhuru working under a console and fiddling with wires that sparked. She was doing repair work, and Spock even said she was the best person for the job! What the hell?

The times, as they say, they were a-changin’.

The ’70s

This was the era of the rerun. We moved to New York at the start of the decade, and TOS competed for my attention with such offerings as an afternoon movie. The Planet of the Apes films would be shown, one after another, all week during a typical week. They were cut to fit a two-hour window and I would watch from 4 to 6 PM, folding laundry or starting dinner or otherwise helping with chores during the commercials. My brother and I were latchkey kids, so someone had to do the rather down to earth wash.

Our mother, of course, wasn’t the only woman in the workforce. I had more and more friends whose mothers worked, at least part-time. I had friends whose parents were divorced. And I was in the last class year in my junior high where the girls were required to take Home Economics while the boys were required to take Shop.

At the end of the decade, I took Advanced Placement English and the teacher required a creative writing assignment that she would read to the rest of the class. I did it, and was pleasantly shocked that I did not actually die from embarrassment.

Star Trek in the ’70s

I got to know this old friend even better.  When I attended a wilderness summer camp, a fellow camper brought a cassette tape recording of an episode – it might have been The Trouble With Tribbles. I’m not sure. I recall being struck by the use of so many sound effects. I suppose I was beginning to understand, a little bit, about how the whole thing worked as a production.

The ’80s

My life changed quite a bit during this decade. I spent the first few years in college and then Law School, and the mid part was devoted to finishing Law School, with the end to practicing law, which I hated. However, during Law School, a boyfriend suggested to me – I bet you could write something if you put your mind to it.

And so I did.

The stories (there were a few) were not great. They were murder mysteries taking place in Boston. My Miss Marple-type character was a Midwestern Philosophy student at my alma mater. While she was not a Mary Sue type of character, I can honestly say now that she was mainly not too terribly believable. But I did come up with two character names that I have grabbed for my fan fiction – Thomas Grant and Shelby Pike.

At the end of the decade, I met my husband, who has always been there for me, for writing and everything else.

Star Trek in the ’80s

I recall, in 1991, going with my family and then-fiancé to see Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It was not planned, and I cannot remember what we were supposed to be watching instead; perhaps the competing film was sold out. I do remember liking it very much and just thinking, yeah, I like this stuff.

But when The Next Generation began to be aired, I didn’t watch it, and it all kind of fell off my radar. Some of this was due to the show not starting off too well, some was due to so many changes happening in my life.

The ’90s

In 1990, I up and quit practicing law. I had been miserable for far too long. But it was hard to find other work, so I instead concentrated on planning the wedding. In 1994, we moved to Providence, and then in 1995 we moved to Boston, and into our house in the middle of that year. I took a job auditing and traveled around the country, and was away for a good 200 – 250 days every year. I had little time for anything, let alone Star Trek. The center obviously could not hold, and I was transferred to different work and finally left that role at the end of the decade, for more lucrative pastures as a data analyst.

Star Trek in the ’90s

For me, it was nearly nonexistent. While others were watching TNG, and then Deep Space Nine and Voyager, I was, well, working. A lot. One show we watched, pretty religiously, was Quantum Leap. And we did see Star Trek: First Contact in a theater. And then in ’97, we got a computer with Internet access.

The ’00s

We were settled in a happy home life when 9/11 happened and the bottom dropped out of, well, everything. The financial services market collapsed, and took with it my job. My parents had a neighbor who died in the Twin Towers. It was personal, and it was scary.

A ray of hope was knowing that there was going to be new Star Trek. My husband and I vowed to watch it.

Star Trek in the ’00s

From the first scene of a young Jonathan Archer playing with a model starship, to the three starships signing off at the end of the series finale, we were hooked. It was must-see television, so far as we were concerned, and I even joined the campaign to save Enterprise.

And then, on February 26th, 2005, I wrote and posted my first fan fiction – More, More, More!, also called the disco Trek story.

I had a few bursts of creativity that year and then shelved everything for five years, returning to it on October 21st, 2010, with Reversal, a story that I spun out as I was posting it, with no plans whatsoever.

What about now?

That, gentle reader, is for the next meta blog installment. Stay tuned.

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Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Meta, 5 comments

Introduction, Ground Work and Housekeeping

A Little Housekeeping


There are any number of things for me to write about, but I am going to concentrate on my own fiction. This is mainly because I know it, of course, and also because I am, in many ways, my own worst critic. I can look at entries from a year or more ago and cringe. But I guess I go on.

Where everything is

I tend to post most of my works in Trek United before anywhere else. This is partly because that’s where I first posted fan fiction, so I have a history there, and also because they were and are very encouraging. However, I often find myself going back to older works and tweaking them when I post them elsewhere. Sometimes it’s to better dovetail with canon.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel |  The DNA of a blog | Housekeeping

The DNA of a blog

Other times, it’s to dovetail with fanfiction – that is, my own universe and my own overarching storylines. After all, if character X is dead in 2157, and in an earlier work, he’s alive during that same time period for some reason, I may switch that up, if it doesn’t destroy the integrity of the older work.

One thing that might be of amusement is that there is a rather strong profanity filter there. I have found I’ve had to get creative with synonyms. I have kept this – I suppose I’m used to it now – when describing what are sometimes very intimate scenes.

Where is More of it?

More earthy stuff can be posted at Trek Empire, but I haven’t yet used it for that, not really. I have plenty of earthy material. More (much, much more) on that later. I just haven’t done much at TE, as of this writing. I also have two drabbles at The Delphic Expanse.

Another place with my work is Trek BBS. So far, I’ve only really scratched the surface there. Yet another spot is Because I can just upload there, I’ve taken to posting three chapters at a time when I’m spinning out longer works. For both of these locations, I have felt the need to somewhat bowdlerize my work, so it’s been the opposite of Trek Empire.

Polished Works

Much more polished works are generally found at Ad Astra (they are also the sponsors of this blog, so I thank them for setting it up). I also like the formatting there, and the critiquing system. It just seems to work out better for most of my fan fic publishing needs.

I also have some works on Issuu, under the Trek United imprimatur. Two of my works there, Reversal and Intolerance, are rated Mature, so they are not searchable that way. I like Issuu for how the covers look with the overall layout of the works. However, the longer works are also on Ad Astra and I have updated them since their publication on Issuu.

Another venue for my work is Merknet. Richard Merk has converted the two longer Issuu creations to Kindle and Nook formats. So you can download those two to your e-reader, if you’d like!

For the most part, when I reference a work, I’ll be referencing Ad Astra. The best and most current versions are pretty much all there, and it’s also for consistency’s sake. If I need to cite a work where the rating has been toned down, I’ll most likely point to


The ratings are all over the place. Some, like The Light, are rated for everyone and could be read to your grandmother without concern. Others, like Paving Stones Made from Good Intentions, are rated for everyone but should make you uncomfortable. Still others go up the ratings ladder. This is eventually to Intolerance, which is T, possibly M in some spots. However, that depends on how you feel about oblique references to explicit acts.

As with anything else in life, I advise discretion. But I don’t try to play a gotcha game with ratings, particularly those for children or teens. I think that most if not all of those are safe for work.


Every now and then, I may reveal something that turns out to be a spoiler. I don’t, honestly, expect anyone to have read all of my stuff or, even if they have, that they remember every syllable of it. But I am going to write here about writing, and sometimes that will mean discussing something that could turn out to feel like a revelation. I won’t use spoiler code.

What this blog is really going to be about

  • I’ll cover reviewing my own work, and will likely reveal things you might have overlooked, about what I’m really trying to say, or how well (or poorly) I think I accomplished what I set out to do.
  • Plus I will talk about characters, both canon and original, and will provide pictures for any character where I have an idea of that person’s overall look. I am not so arrogant as to think that what I am writing will be acted by professionals. The pictures are for fun, and to give you an idea of what’s in my head – who do I really see? You may see someone else. Feel free to tell me in the comments section. Perhaps I’ll change my mind. This area will be huge – I tend to do the sprawling Dickensian thing, so I quite literally have a few hundred people to talk about.

And …

  • I will spotlight original technology and concepts, everything from drugs to sports to original species and their characteristics.
  • In addition, I’ll also give a progress report, probably at the end of every month, giving an idea of what I’ve done, and what’s on the horizon. This will help to keep me accountable, but I don’t promise anything. Life does intervene at times, of course.
  • I will give you a look inside my creative process, including the kinds of things that inspire me.
  • Plus whatever strikes my fancy.


I won’t really adhere to a strict blogging schedule but I will try to get something out twice a week. That may change – life and inspiration and time don’t always combine to create the perfect storm allowing me to keep regular blogging hours. I’ll do what I can.

Other blogs

This is not my first rodeo. I also blog on health, diet and fitness, robotics, career changing and even did a guest stint for Trek United’s Twelve Days of Christmas blog, writing about Adult Trek.

About Me

I’m a woman, born in New Jersey (in 1962) but raised in Pennsylvania and then New York. I attended college in Boston and then Law School in Delaware, and practiced law for a few years in New York until I ran screaming from that life. I met my husband in the late 1980s and we married in 1992. We moved to Providence for work and then to Boston in 1995 and have never looked back.

I currently work in IT, and have a background in corporate training, business analysis, data analysis, community management and social media marketing. I don’t believe in limiting myself or pigeonholing myself. I’ve worked in all sorts of places, from a tiny startup that could fit in my car to a Fortune 50 company.

We have no kids. We’ve had dogs four times – no dogs right now as there is just no time and it wouldn’t be fair. But I do love to see my neighbors’ furry friends, and I will stop and pet pretty much any dog I see, all while playing “guess the breed”. I walk almost every day and run over ten 5K races per year. I am almost always last. Everyone cheers because, I know, they realize that they can finally eat and get their prizes.


I am Jewish but I am pretty lapsed. I do a lot of things that a lot of my characters like to do, such as cook, garden and fish. If I were an ENT character, I’d probably be a cross between Reed and Sato. Reed for his organized competence (at least I like to think that’s what I’m like), and Sato for her fears and hesitations (I know I’m like that). It’s no mystery to me why I tend to write them more than all of the other canon ENT characters (and not in a relationship together, by the way).

And, that’s it for housekeeping!

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Meta, 0 comments

Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction

Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction

Welcome! Come on in, and sit down.

Welcome to My Worlds

I’ve got a lot to say.

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Jespah 2012 Welcome

Jespah 2012

This blog is going to be about fan fiction, of the Star Trek kind, mostly Enterprise although I do branch out into the other series’ and the films’ universes on occasion. But my main focus is ENT.

If you don’t like fanfiction, you might want to turn back now. But if you aren’t sure, or if you think it’s just for those who can’t be creative, I urge you to consider a few things.


Fan fiction, in essence, is like an “adapted by” or “based on” credit in the movies or on television. Sure, it’s not 100%, absolutely, completely, utterly, blisteringly, breathtakingly original. But that “adapted by” credit? Let’s see where else it is, or where it should be, shall we?

Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction

How about West Side Story, for starters? And they didn’t even credit the original author! Instead, playwright Jerome Robbins and writers Ernest Lehman and Arthur Laurents are shown. Funny how William Shakespeare isn’t listed, eh? Well, I guess the Bard didn’t have a very good agent. Take a look here if you don’t believe me.

Or what about Ten Things I Hate About You? Oh, there’s another one with no credit for poor ole Will. Instead, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith get the nod. Check ‘em out here.

Welcome, or, In Praise of Fan Fiction

Willie the Shake isn’t the only writer who gets short shrift with adaptations. What about Clueless? Amy Heckerling is the only writer with a credit. If I were Jane Austen, I’d be a little upset, seeing as its basis is Emma. Don’t believe me? Take a gander here.

There are countless vampire film and television adaptations, copies and suggestions – they don’t all mention Bram Stoker. Twilight certainly doesn’t mention the father of the vampire genre, although it does give credit to Melissa Rosenberg and Stephenie Meyer. Check it out.

At least Charles Dickens gets a “suggestion” credit for Scrooged, but the real billing is left for Mitch Glazer and Michael O’Donoghue. See the list of Scrooged writers.

Adaptations Outside of English

Of course English writers are not the only ones out there who are hit up for adaptations, suggestions and the like, and English language films aren’t the only adapters, but at least Shakespeare gets a mention in Ran, along with Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni and Masato Ide. Perhaps it’s the Eastern cultural imperative to respect one’s ancestors at work here.

Here’s a film based on a Spanish poem – El Cid. And, you may have guessed it, no credit for the original author, believed to be Per Abbad, but plenty of credit for Fredric M. Frank, Philip Yordan and Ben Barzman. Take a look at the list of El Cid writers.

The Point?

And then there’s The Wind Done Gone and other parallel novels, which use other books’ scenarios as their own. See Wikipedia for a list.

What’s the point of all of this research?

The bottom line is that fan fiction isn’t significantly different. It’s a cousin, if you will, to adapted screenplays, suggested stories and parallel novelizations. Plenty of perfectly wonderful and respected works of art, from the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to the book Grendel are all, truly, based on someone else’s universe.

Do you accept those other works? Do you eagerly stand in line for tickets to Wicked, or watch the Clueless TV program in reruns, or read Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea? Then, my friend, you are a consumer of art that is quite similar to fan fiction. Why embrace one and find fault with the other?

Come with me, and explore, what it means to be human – or Vulcan, or Denobulan or even an original species like Daranaean, or Calafan or Witannen or others – in a vast, unfamiliar place, where death can haunt every light-year or love and friendship might just be around the next bend in the corridor or a lift or transport ride away. Come and explore the outer, the other and the new and strange, but also the familiar and homelike part we all have in us.

Writing is not an activity solely the province of those who are paid any more than imagination solely belongs to those who create for a living. Come and see what I made, and where I am taking things and, frankly, where characters and planets and storylines and events are taking me.

I welcome and open my door to you, and am turning on the light, for you to see into my worlds.

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Meta, 14 comments