As has been my pattern recently, June 2016 proved to be a month of very little new writing. Instead, I concentrated on getting older works spread and promoted as school and work at the wedding blog, plus podcasting, took up a lot more of my time and for very good reasons. My summer Capstone project keeps me hopping but the work is of interest and it is bringing in actual paying work. Plus I got a raise at the wedding blog!
Furthermore, at the G & T Show, we are looking to spin off my law and fandom show, Semantic Shenanigans.
See the Stats page for individual read and review counts.
I continue to work with beta readers on The Enigman Cave. Beta reading takes a while and the story is a long one. I can see it will need some overhauling but I am simply far too busy to do that right now. It will be tackled in late August or in September in anticipation of sending it out for professional editing and then querying later in the year.
I continued to research this year’s planned NaNoWriMo novel, The Real Hub of the Universe. I have also been putting together the outline, which I can see while sprawl over maybe three books.
This Month’s Productivity Killers
School, work, and podcasting – aren’t they enough?
After leaving Empress Hoshi far behind, Beth and Tripp (she calls him Charles) want a new life. They’ve already married, and they have a son, Charlie. Their life on Lafa II isn’t an easy one. After all, they’re living in a cave, and are only doing odd jobs in order to survive. When things are really bad, they’re poachers.
Therefore, when they get a chance to attain full citizenship, they take it. Since they owe the Empress absolutely nothing, they want to declare their allegiance to the leader of the government, the new High Priestess, Yimar. In a low-level bureaucrat’s office, their lives are changed, as they swear to defend the Calafan government and its people, and denounce the Terran Empire.
The initial prompt was about a pivotal moment in a character’s life. This got me thinking of a ballerina, pivoting on her toes. And that immediately led me to Shelby Pike, but then I decided I’d rather go with Susan Cheshire.
Shifting between the Star Trek: Enterprise Prime Universe and the Mirror Universe, both Susans weigh the same question – whether to quit drinking. Both are with Aidan MacKenzie.
In the Prime Universe, Aidan is supportive, offering to talk to Captain Reed about taking some time off to help Susan with her struggles.
In the Mirror, Aidan can’t take any time, as he has to be at Empress Hoshi‘s beck and call. Ultimately, the decision that is made differs, depending upon the universe in question.
The decision to quit or continue drinking is, of course, Susan’s alone. But her circumstances certainly define and dictate which was the dice roll.
although I probably could have done more to delineate the differences between the two situations. If this could have been done without having to rely on font formatting, I think it could have, overall, been a stronger piece. As it is now, it’s okay, but I feel it’s got room for improvement.
Takara Sato, the treasure, is very important to the timeline.
I wanted Empress Hoshi to have just one daughter, and one pair of twins. Hence Takara and Takeo were born. Takara was to be the elder of the two. These would be the children fathered by Chip Masterson. The only child younger than them is Izo. Jun, Kira, and Arashi are older.
I wanted a very beautiful Asian actress who could believably be the person to continue Empress Hoshi’s dynasty.
Without Takara, the House of Sato falls. She ends up being the only one of the six royal children to reproduce.
Privileged and beautiful, Takara is the apple of her mother’s eye.
While Hoshi has no problem allowing her sons to run wild, she takes more interest in Takara, and who Takara is marrying. Part of this is some sexism on Hoshi’s part. However, that works with how I write the Mirror Universe, as most women are in low positions there. Hence Hoshi particularly wants Takara to marry well. Takara Sato’s choices multiply during the alternate timelines in Temper.
During Temper, Tommy in particular is interested in Takara, who often dresses quite a bit like the Sailor Mercury anime character.
He is so interested that he threatens to fight Joss for her. Joss wisely bows out, telling Tommy that she does not interest him and doesn’t want to fight. However, Takara favors Joss. But this is mainly because he is the first-born of his family. And, in this alternate timeline, he is a baseball star, whereas Tommy is a common (to Takara) soldier.
Tommy’s wrath also extends to Charlie Tucker, son of Tripp Tucker and Beth Cutler, but Charlie is on the surface of Lafa II and doesn’t experience Tommy’s threats first-hand.
When the timeline is restored, they meet as children, in Fortune. And, later, Norri bequeathes her callidium-laden earrings to him, urging him to use them for dream contact.
I will explore this later, as the idea intrigues me.
Charles Tucker IV
When the prime timeline is restored, Chip and Lucy are able to smuggle the twins to the forests of Lafa II. With Tommy and Joss gone back to the Prime Universe, Takara’s sole prospect is Charlie. Fortunately, they fall in love, and wed later, and become parents.
Their son, Charles V, marries the daughter of Takara’s half-brother, Ken Masterson, and Charlie’s sister, Betsy Tucker. That daughter is Denise Masterson (in the Prime Universe, Ken’s daughter is Kelly, and her mother is as yet unknown).
It is their grandson, Charles Tucker VI, who succeeds Jun and Kira as the Emperor Charles I. Takara’s family is presented to Hoshi on Hoshi’s deathbed, in Who Shall Wear the Robe and Crown? and Hoshi complains about the pollution of Tucker blood into the Sato genome.
In He Stays a Stranger, Takara helps to get her mother out of the Lafa System, in exchange for agreeing to return to the royal fold.
For a weekly prompt about escapes, I chose what would be, to some, the only way out of the mirror.
For Andrew Miller, who has become the Empress‘s toy, and has been so for years, life is too much of a burden, and he wants it all to end, and end soon.
And so he goes about figuring out how to end it all.
Sick of everything, and sick of the Empress, Andy sets about putting together the means and opportunity to kill himself. He obtains a tricoulamine capsule but the later investigation shows it’s from Crossman Pharmaceuticals and is of an older design, so it was possibly from the earlier doctor, Cyril Morgan.
It’s all because of the death of Melissa Madden, a fact disclosed in Fortune. After Andy and Melissa meet (during The Play at the Plate), a sexual relationship develops between them. When Melissa becomes pregnant, Andrew will have to get her off the ship without the Empress finding out, as Hoshi will kill both of them. Because he can never see his child, he at least wants to try to support the baby, who they have agreed to name Tommy.
Andrew asks his friend, Josh Rosen, to help set up a dummy fund to help support Tommy and Melissa. Josh agrees to launder the funds and make it appear as if it’s an account comprised of the payment of old gambling debts from Game Night. Melissa’s death, in a shuttle crash, moots all of that work.
Several years later, Andrew has the nerve, the means, and the privacy. He write a short note and takes the drug, thereby finally getting away from Hoshi.
The Play at the Plate – In response to a prompt about obstacles, I immediately visualized a catcher blocking the plate in baseball.
That led my thoughts to mirror baseball, and I also thought of Game Night, which is my Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction Mirror Universe counterpart to Movie Night. Hence the story began to fall into place.
It’s 2162, not too long after the events of Temper and Fortune, and Andrew Miller is calling for bets for a mirror baseball game as catcher David Constantine seeks to block runner Ty Janeway from scoring. Andrew is the Empress’s current toy. But in walks the new pilot, Melissa Madden.
Dumbstruck and more than a little smitten, Andy takes Melissa’s bet. And, when she loses, she offers to allow him to come to her quarters and collect. But Frank Ramirez reminds Andrew that it is just not a good idea. Andy, to his detriment, eventually ignores that sage advice. And that is a very bad idea indeed. Because, essentially, Andy is sealing his own fate. This is not a happy fate at all.
I like the little inklings in here, that there is something that could potentially be between them, but the Empress Hoshi Sato will never let Andrew break free. Furthermore, when the principals conspire, and later when Andrew makes his escape, these decisions haunt him. Andrew Miller is very much a tragic figure in the Mirror Universe. He is the person who, amidst an environment where everyone takes whatever they want, he cannot have just what – who – he wants the most.
The High Cost of Dissidence gives Charlotte her say.
In Reversal, when he’s unsure whether he’ll be separated from Lili, Doug investigates Lili’s Mirror Universe counterpart.
In Fortune, Norri refers to that counterpart as Charlotte. Lili and Charlotte begin life somewhat similarly, but things diverge rather quickly. For one thing, Charlotte has a little brother, Declan (and, when Lili and Malcolm have a child, they name him Declan Reed in honor of the boy with no counterpart).
In addition, much as is shown in Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions, Charlotte goes away to boarding school at a young age. At the time of The High Cost of Dissidence, Charlotte is nine, and Declan O’Day is seven. Hence he is close to starting boarding school as well.
The story begins with Charlotte coming home from school, for the first time in months, and noticing that things are not right. She may be young, but she’s no fool. Hence she figures out quickly that the family’s expensive and fancy possessions are no more. There is no more car. There is no more flash cooker. Most of the furniture is no more. And her parents are arguing.
What are they arguing about? It’s Pete, her father. He’s ruined them all, by carelessly mentioning that things under Emperor Philip Green IV (the same emperor as the one defeated by Hoshi in Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses) are less than optimal. He has lost his job, his wife, Marie Helêne, can no longer sell her pottery, and they are falling, ever and onward, into financial ruin. Things are not going to get any better, but at least they are together.
And then, much like happened in Nazi Germany, there’s an ominous knock on the door.
One of the easiest ways for the suspension of disbelief to come crashing down, when it comes to the Star Trek Mirror Universe, is the sameness of the lives of the counterparts, particularly given the backgrounds of violence, fear and intimidation in most of the episodes centered around this alternate universe. Although it is, technically, possible to have an evil version of everyone but nearly all else be the same (including parentage), the likelihood just plain isn’t there.
Therefore, when I was first spinning out Reversal, I decided Lili’s counterpart would have a brother. So he would, unevenly, not show up in the prime universe. Furthermore, the biggest divergence between the two Lili/Charlotte counterparts occurs here, and I had not written it before. Readers only glimpsed Charlotte and her mother in a photo, and they never saw Declan and Peter O’Day.
I like how it turned out; it rips off the sexy, campy veneer of the Mirror Universe and exposes it as the totalitarian nightmare that it should be.
Bread is yet another story where the title has multiple meanings.
In February and March of 2013, a challenge came from the Trek BBS – write about independence.
And while I suppose I could have written about a planet or a nation or a people gaining their independence, or of a young person striking out on their own, I decided to zig where others might zag. Hence I wrote about elderly people losing theirs.
The concept and its execution were appreciated well enough that I won that month’s challenge.
Following both the prime universe and the Mirror Universe, these are two parallel but not quite parallel stories about Leah Benson and Diana Jones.
In the mirror, Leah furtively looks around as she begins a meal. It’s made clear, very quickly (and hearkens back to the same conditions in Reveral and Temper in particular), that MU food is bad. So the fact that there is bread is a minor miracle. Quietly, and to herself, she says the Hebrew blessing over the bread, confirming something Josh Rosen mentions in Temper, that faith abides in the mirror, or at least some form of Judaism does. The way I write the Mirror Universe, the practicing of any faith, and not just Judaism, is done mainly in secret, much like the crypto-Jews and conversos of Spain during the Inquisition.
In our universe, Leah is the official Starfleet Rabbi. So the story begins with her attending a banquet and weeklong set of official meetings regarding admitting three new worlds to the new United Federation of Planets. These are the Caitian home world, Denobula and the Xyrillian home world. This is the culmination of earlier contacts with Caitians, in A Single Step and The Further Adventures of Porthos – The Stilton Fulfillment. Furthermore, it is a natural progression for that species (in canon, there is no first contact date for Caitians, whereas first contact for Xyrillians occurs during ENT and first contact for Denobulans takes place before ENT’s pilot episode) and the two others.
The idea behind the banquet and set of meetings is not only to welcome the new member worlds but to also demonstrate to other worlds that the Federation is tolerant of differences. Religious and spiritual leaders, including Leah, say a few words about religious tolerance and intolerance on Earth throughout history. In addition, all admit they have been on both the giving and the receiving ends of persecution and bigotry. The Daranaeans, in particular, pay attention.
Back to the MU
Back in the mirror, Leah is looking to leave the ISS Defiant. Izo Sato decides he is going to seduce her. And never mind that’s she’s over seventy and a lesbian, to boot. Josh offers a small measure of protection and he, Shelby and Frank start to hatch a plan to get Leah away. For Frank and Shelby, this is a dress rehearsal for what they hope will be their own endgame. The plan is to fake a shuttle crash, and strand Leah on Andoria.
Back to Our Side of the Pond
In our universe, Leah is married to Diana, but things are not right, and Diana’s memory is failing. It’s an early sign of Irumodic Syndrome, the canon malady suffered by Captain Picard at the end of the running of TNG. Diana’s caregiver is an Andorian, and Diana is beginning to not recognize even her.
Leah makes up her mind; she needs to be at home and become Diana’s primary caregiver. She confides this to Jonathan Archer, and he commiserates, telling her a bit about his father’s own battle with Clarke’s Disease. He offers her a part-time solution, and encourages her to try to be able to work at least a little bit, because otherwise she will lose herself in Diana’s incurable illness.
As the denizens of the mirror plot and plan, Leah remembers there is one person on Andoria who she knows. And it turns out to be the mirror version of Diana. Leah also remembers her own part in the death of Leonora Digiorno, from Fortune. And so that further connects the two halves of the story.
Will the mirror Leah get out? Will either version of Diana remember? Do faith, love and family abide, no matter what they look like, and no matter what the conditions and odds? Find out by reading the story.
I really love this one, as it continues the Reversal not-quite parallelism and the meditations on aging. I also feel it helps to fulfill the promise of femme-slash. E. g. same-sex relationships (and marriages) exist in the future, of course. However, I feel that writing them just as sex and angst isn’t enough. All relationships, particularly longer-term ones, have chambers that aren’t bedrooms. Leah and Diana are dealing with the very real problem of aging and losing independence, and no longer being who you were. This story, I feel, gets across that idea well, and I love how it turned out.
Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses is yet another multi-dimensional title. The rocks would be a shattering of conventions. The looking glass of course is a reference to the Mirror Universe. And the glass houses naturally are exactly where you don’t want to throw any rocks. Furthermore, I decided on rocks rather than stones as they imply irregularity and roughness. This contrasts with Paving Stones as there the action follows set patterns and traditions.
This story upends those traditions and it shows just how Hoshi changes everything.
I wanted a transitional story, a power grab, showing Empress Hoshi getting where she wanted to be.
Having declared herself Empress, Hoshi has to consolidate her power. She has to eliminate threats and pick up allies. This means ruthless Machiavellian efficiency.
Furthermore, she has to get rid of the Emperor, who I write as a descendant of canon mass murderer Philip Green. Green brings along only three bodyguards, foolishly underestimating her bloodlust – my original characters, José Torres, Brian Delacroix, and Andrew Miller.
I like how it turned out. In particular, I enjoyed putting together Hoshi’s plan and showing her nastiness. Her impatience with science and with delays, her casual approach to murder and her lust are all on display. I really like the final product.
When I first wrote Fortune, the idea was to tie up the In Between Days series.
I was not tired of the characters or of their situations, but it seemed as if they needed an end point. Furthermore, I was thinking about the canon episode, These Are The Voyages, and trying to make some sense of it. I came to the conclusion that the professional writers wanted some end of series closure and they also wanted some ownership of the fate of what was possibly the most popular character.
When Temper ends, Lili has some surprising and wonderfully good news for Malcolm. When Fortune starts, Malcolm is processing it. Jonathan Archer asks him what’s wrong. But nothing is wrong – everything is very, very right, but it’s also rather private. A joyful celebration is held, and the family is then reunited for Declan‘s birth. The family sweetly dreams together, and the relationships are reinforced. These are between Melissa and Leonora, Doug and Melissa, Lili and Doug, and Malcolm and Lili.
Leonora in particular has a wonderfully vivid dream of Billie Holliday singing “God Bless the Child“.
It seems like everything is right.
But there are storm clouds on the horizon. There is unfinished business, and it needs to come to a resolution before the family can truly move forward.
Too many specifics will mean revealing too many spoilers. Suffice it to say, the story does not end the series. I am happy to continue these stories. Because I want to give these characters and their overall family their measures of forever. So that is either in this life or in whatever may or may not come beyond.
I am proud of this story and hope it does the characters justice.