Progress Report – January 2016

Progress Report – January 2016

January 2016 Posted Works

January 2016 kept catching up to me.Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | January 2016 I started another year where, I hope, to not be quite so burned out as I was at the end of last year. School, work, and writing were all really beginning to catch up with me.

On Wattpad, I continued adding to the anthology, Later Days. As a result, On the Radio, We Meet Again, The Play at the Plate, Legends, All You Need is Love, The Best Things Come in Pairs, and Complications were added. I also added Saturn Rise separately.

On, I finished A Long, Long Time Ago and I then started to post Ohio.

On the G & T Show forums, I kept adding to Reversal.


See the Stats page for individual read and review counts.

WIP Corner

I continued to work on perfecting the story of the Enigmans and also a new idea, a very tentative idea about aliens in nineteenth century Boston. That one already has a short wiki as I am beginning to do the necessary background research. It may eventually become my NaNoWriMo project for this year. We shall see.

Prep Work

I worked on getting Ohio in shape for posting on I worked with beta readers on The Enigman Cave. That story went through several revisions and I fully expect revisions will continue for much of the early part of this year.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

January 2016 signaled some changes. The start of the semester and the return to work made for busy times for me, as did work for the G & T Show. This is my last full two-course semester. I’ll graduate in May but I will still need to complete my capstone project over the summer.

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Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Progress, 0 comments

Portrait of a Character – Marie Helêne Ducasse O’Day

Portrait of a Character – Marie Helêne Ducasse O’Day

Marie Helêne Ducasse O’Day was originally not to be seen.


In order to explain why Lili O’Day was so isolated in Reversal, I needed for her family to be gone. As a result, I randomly chose a house fire, at age nine, as being the cause of her orphaning. And therefore, Lili needed to have parents, even briefly.


Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Young Lili O'Day with her mother, Marie Helêne Ducasse O'Day

Young Lili O’Day with her mother, Marie Helêne Ducasse O’Day (image is for educational and references purposes only)

I have no idea who this woman is. The image comes from Flickr, and I was really looking for a fair-skinned and fair-haired girl of the right age. The woman’s image was a bonus, as was the painting on the little girl’s face. I mean no disrespect in continuing to use this image.

If I were to cast Marie Helêne now,  I would choose a middle-aged blonde actress, possibly someone like Mary Stuart Masterson. As a bonus, I ‘cast’ Ms. Masterson in a wholly original trilogy, The Obolonk Murders. I like this smart and lovely actress who feels natural-looking.


Smart and artistic, Marie Helêne is a potter in both universes. In the Mirror, that makes her something of an elite. In the prime universe, her artistic bent passes along to Lili and to two of her three grandchildren, who she never sees, Declan Reed and Marie Patrice Beckett.


Peter Thomas O’Day

Marie Helêne’s only known relationship is with Pete. They have a good relationship in both universes.

Mirror Universe

In the Mirror, Peter and Marie Helêne have a difficult life, as Pete says something he’s not supposed to, and inadvertently is branded a dissident.

Mary Stuart Masterson as Mirror Universe Marie Helêne Ducasse O’Day

Mary Stuart Masterson by David Shankbone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, in the Mirror Universe, Pete Marie Helênedeliberately set the fatal house fire. This is because they have no other options.


“They’ll never let you come back. And the kids and me, we’ll never recover. Charlotte will end up turning tricks this afternoon, or I will! And Declan will become a thief, if he’s lucky, and he lives that long.”


Historical circumstances make it so that this character can’t appear much more than she already has. But any time I write Lili remembering her childhood, Marie Helêne isn’t far behind.

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Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, In Between Days series, Portrait, 0 comments

Portrait of a Character – Sheilagh Bernstein

Portrait of a Character – Sheilagh Bernstein


I wanted a bit of an author surrogate here. I loved this spelling of Sheilagh ever since I saw it in the old book, The Harrad Experiment. That was about the only thing, other than the sex scenes, that was interesting about that book, but I digress.

Sheilagh was written to be a specialist in ancient computer systems, as time travelers would need that sort of expertise.


I see Leelee Sobieski in this role.

Portrait of a Character – Sheilagh Bernstein

I like the actress’s look, she seems brassy and I feel that Sheilagh would be a bit like that. Smart but also maybe a little pushy.


A genius, but often isolated, Sheilagh is older and could use some friends. When things trouble her, she has no one to talk to and, in Ohio, ends up talking to a random guy in a park.

Sheilagh was born on September 19, 3062. She lives on Mars. While growing up, she had a Mastiff named Jake. She is an only child, born in New Brasilia, on Callisto.


Richard Daniels

While some flirting goes on in Ohio, it isn’t until You Mixed-Up Siciliano that they hook up. The relationship is mainly physical and they often meet in each other’s bunks in the middle of the night. Just before Spring Thaw, Rick ends it, and Sheilagh does not object.

HD Avery

In Shake Your Body, after seeing some difficult things, they get together. HD has been interested for quite a while, referring to her (when speaking to Daniels) as being, “the best one”. In He Stays a Stranger, Branch Borodin states that HD and Sheilagh eventually marry.  A quick scene of them dating is showing in Happy Stuff 3111.

Theme Music

Although the spelling is wrong, this song works. It’s from 1962, so it’s a little bit after Ohio.

Mirror Universe

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Sheilagh Bernstein's file photo at the Temporal Integrity Commission

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Sheilagh Bernstein’s file photo at the Temporal Integrity Commission

In Ohio, Sheilagh confirms that she has a Mirror Universe counterpart, who is a government official.

I see this woman as being smart, yes, but even more withdrawn than the Prime Universe Sheilagh. After all, who can you trust?


“Home is, is on Mars. Yeah! I’m one of those little green men you’re all so worried about. Uh, little green woman. And him? He lives near Saturn! We come from the future to, to eat your Pasta Alla Puttanesca and drink your Campari!”


I like Sheilagh Bernstein but she’s had few occasions to really work. She did some work in Another Piece of the Action, but the personality was not explored. I need to try to rectify that at some point.

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Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Portrait, Times of the HG Wells series, 5 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

Review – Saturn Rise

Review – Saturn Rise

Saturn Rise – this was, I feel, a necessary story to write.

Saturn Rise Background


For my own Star Trek fanfiction prompt about forgiveness, I went with a story about Malcolm, Lili, Joss, Marie Patrice, Declan, and Malcolm’s parents. This one dovetailed with a far more serious story about Pamela, Treve, and her family. It is all about offenses, hurts, slights, and pain. Some is fairly small. Some of it is devastating.


Two stories run through the piece.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Saturn System

Saturn System

In the first, Pamela and Treve are getting serious, and she agrees to see her sister, Lisa, who she hasn’t seen in years. She takes Treve along, in order to introduce him. It’s a major commitment for her. She wants it to be right.

In the second, Lili and Malcolm are going to see his parents. She will meet them for the first time, and they will see Declan, too, for the first time.


Both scenarios sound promising. But there’s more going on there. Lisa, thinking it will be a pleasant surprise, brings her family along, and her and Pamela’s mother. Lisa is innocent and thinks it’ll be fun. What she learns is that their family was rather different from what she believed. And that Pamela, as a child, suffered abuse by their father. With a mother who seemingly didn’t do anything about it, Pamela unleashes her fury on their mother, as their father is long dead.

Pamela, or, Virtue Rewarded (1742). Mr B reads...

Pamela, or, Virtue Rewarded (1742). Mr B reads…

On Malcolm and Lili’s side of things, Stuart and Mary Reed express their concerns that the commitment between Lili and Malcolm is an illusory one, as Lili is married and her relationship with Malcolm is a part of her open marriage with Doug.

In addition, while they love Declan immediately, it takes them longer to warm up to the other two children, who they single out. Even though Mary had already given Marie Patrice a gift of handmade yellow knitted gloves (as was seen in Fortune), the two elder Reeds still hold back. An important part of the piece is Malcolm standing up to his parents, informing them that Joss and Marie Patrice are “our children”, meaning his, Lili’s, Doug’s and, by extension, also Melissa and Norri‘s.

As I often do, I twisted the conclusion a bit. Not everyone is forgiven, and maybe not everyone should be.

Story Postings


The story is Rated T.


I was happy to showcase more of Pamela and Treve’s relationship, and not in the context of their first sexual encounter. These characters love each other, and I hadn’t really shown that before. As for Lili and Malcolm, their love was already in several stories. However, to be able to extend that to his love for her other children, the chance to do that in story form was irresistible. I think the story turned out well, and particularly like how Malcolm stood up to his parents and Pamela stood up to her mother.

Posted by jespah in In Between Days series, Review, 13 comments

Recurrent Themes – Blueberries

Recurrent Themes – Blueberries

Why blueberries in Star Trek fanfiction?Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | DNA | Blueberries

A part of it is the visual appeal. There is no question that they are a pretty presentation on any plate. But then I started putting them into all sorts of places in my fiction.

They just have the right sort of appeal as a food that many people enjoy and can relate to. Everybody knows what a blueberry looks like, and what it tastes like. It is a way for space adventures to gain some down to Earth appeal.


Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Blueberry Pie | Blueberries

Lili’s Blueberry Pie

Jay Hayes and Dave Constantine in particular are blueberry fans.

Lili gets this information out of Jay when she first meets him during the events of Harvest. As a result, blueberries figure thematically throughout the time they know one another. With Dave, she learns of his preference during The Way to a Man’s Heart.  By making Dave a blueberry pie, it reminds her of Jay.

During the E2 stories, Lili is constantly putting the blueberry jam jar in front of Jay. He sometimes notices, sometimes he doesn’t. This detail thereby serves as a subtle reminder of how much she likes him. She is paying attention, even to that. In addition, in Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, she feeds him his last meal before he goes to rescue Hoshi (and, in Star Trek: Enterprise canon, he’s killed). The last thing he eats is a handful of blueberries that Lili gives him, right before she hugs him and tells him to be careful.

Blueberries show up briefly in Saturn Rise and Fortune, too.


Beautiful and sweet, blueberries, to me, symbolize not only simplicity and

Recurrent Themes – Blueberries

wholesomeness, but also a means by which people can safely connect.

After all, or at least it seems this way, doesn’t everybody like blueberries?

Posted by jespah in Fan fiction, Themes, 6 comments