Tag Archives: Star Trek

Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden

Portrait of a Character – Melissa Madden

Melissa Madden arose out of an idea I had for Lili, actually. Since Lili was going to have a particular arrangement, there had to be what was essentially a counterpart arrangement. Enter Melissa.

Origins

In Intolerance, there are four crew members who are worse off than the others. One of them is Melissa. At the time, I was already thinking about Together and so I wanted the name to be out there, perhaps in the back of the minds of readers. Melissa was also intended as homage to canon character Martin Madden, who is Steven Culp‘s character in Star Trek: Nemesis. The character is only a part of additional footage; the actual scene went to the cutting room floor.

I also wanted Melissa to be a direct expression of a day/night dichotomy. Hence, she is bisexual, and the day is devoted to a female lover, Leonora, whereas the night is devoted to a male lover, Doug. Switching up the dichotomy even more is the fact that, when introduced, she is working the night shift.

Portrayal

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Catherine Bell as Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)
Catherine Bell as Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)

Due to the connection to Culp, I opted for actress Catherine Bell.  I also chose Bell because she has a rather different look from both Lili and Leonora. I also wanted a physical portrayal of someone who would be believable as both a mother and an athlete.

This would be someone with almost a fly-boy (fly-girl, I suppose) swagger, too, reflecting the character’s occupation as a pilot. At the same time, the character needed to be feminine but also not too terribly young. Even though she is a lot younger than Doug, I show enough of her later life that it’s almost more than of her younger years. In fact, I have no writings of her childhood or young adulthood, like I do for the Norri, Lili,  and Doug.

Symbolism

Five of the six main characters (everyone but Pamela Hudson) is associated with an element. Melissa is the earth element, even though she’s a pilot. A part of this is her earthiness, another part is her hunting and back to nature behaviors. She’s a lot more comfortable out of doors than either Norri or Lili are. To me, she symbolizes solidity.

Personality

Beyond the day/night, two lovers situation, Melissa is a skilled pilot and devoted to her family. She becomes a mother three times (all boys) and imparts her love of Starfleet to Tommy and her split persona to Neil.

Kevin, though, is tragic – she buries him when he is less than a month old. This changes her, making her more pensive in her later years. In her much later years, she develops the canon disease Irumodic Syndrome, which is an analogue to Alzheimer’s. In Fortune, the reader witnesses some of her decline. I follow up on this snippet with The Decision.

Relationships

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Catherine Bell as Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)
Catherine Bell as Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)

For Melissa, relationships follow the day and the night. She is a kind of split personality character. Her whole romantic persona has two sides to it.

Leonora Digiorno

They meet cute, when both are on vacation on Ceres. Melissa essentially crooks her finger, and Norri comes running. They originally settle on Ceres.

Doug Beckett

Melissa and Doug are paired up during Together, and she is a direct reason why Lili and Doug open up their marriage. It’s not just due to her pregnancy; it is also because they truly love each other.

Andrew Miller

In the Mirror Universe, Andy is the Empress Hoshi Sato‘s boy toy, and Melissa knows that. But she goes after him anyway.

Shelby Pike

This is never confirmed (I may write it at some point), but at minimum, Melissa and Shelby tease the hell out of the Mirror Travis.

Music

As might be expected, her initial music is the Allman Brothers’ Sweet Melissa. With Doug, her theme is the Cure’s Let’s Go to Bed. With Norri, the theme is k. d. lang’s Constant Craving. Her final theme is Joe Jackson’s Get That Girl.

Quote

“I never loved another man. Never wanted to.”

Mirror Universe

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Catherine Bell as MU Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)
Catherine Bell as MU Melissa Madden (image is for educational purposes only)

The Mirror Melissa’s life is defined by poor choices and tragedy. Her death is one of the scenes in Fortune, and she is also remembered by her lover, Andrew, in Escape.

Upshot

Kind and sometimes a little silly, the perceptive peacemaker is a part of the glue holding the main characters in the In Between Days series together. And as a foundational member of the family, her descendants are just as important as Lili’s are.

Inspiration – TV shows

Inspiration – TV shows

TV Shows?

Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. Because my first exposure to Star Trek was watching the original series in its first run, naturally some inspiration comes from the big flashing box in the living room.

Star Trek

Star Trek itself is, of course, an inspiration. And there are a lot of cross-references among the various series, plus the films. I’ll explore that in another blog entry.

Quantum Leap

Quantum Leap | TV Shows

Between Captain Archer and Sam Beckett both being played by Scott Bakula, and Crewman Daniels the time traveler having to fix various temporal issues, and Colonel Grat and Al Calavicci both being played by Dean Stockwell, Quantum Leap was a logical place to turn for inspiration.

QL shows up in all sorts of places. Richard Daniels’s boss is the feminine version of Al – Admiral Carmen Calavicci. The premise of the Times of the HG Wells series is to put back what a faction has meddled with – the reverse of Quantum Leap. Reversal‘s reference to the Defiant‘s database as being so full of holes that it’s like Swiss cheese is a direct reference. Richard’s original girlfriend, Tina, is another reference. So is him being called “Future Man”, a play on the “Future Boy” episode. Even a calla lily in a groom’s lapel is a shout-out to the series.

Steven Culp

 

Barking up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Steven Culp as Douglas Jay Hayes/Doug Beckett (image is for educational purposes only)
Steven Culp as Douglas Jay Hayes/Doug Beckett (image is for educational purposes only)

Culp played Major J. Hayes on Enterprise and so a lot of references swirl around him and his various television roles. References to Desperate Housewives come from E2 characters Bree Tanner and Rex Ryan and Reversal characters Jennifer Crossman and Brian Delacroix are references to Marcia Cross, the actress who played his wife on that show.

There are also some references to JAG, including character Aidan MacKenzie, a shout-out to character Sarah MacKenzie. Both are called “Mac”. In addition, character Melissa Madden is “played” by Catherine Bell, who of course played Sarah MacKenzie.

There’s even a throwaway reference to ER – Culp’s character was named Dave Spencer, which is also the name I’ve given to Tina April’s stepfather.

Dominic Keating

Keating, of course, played Malcolm Reed on Enterprise.

Inspiration – TV shows

Malcolm is a major character in the In Between Days series. Therefore, there are a lot of references around him as well. In Intolerance, the character names Blair, Claymore, Nguyen, Owen and Will all have something to do with Keating.

Other references

The surname Sloane is a quick shout-out to Cheers. That was Diane Chambers’s boyfriend in the pilot. Chip Masterson‘s real first name, Chandler, is a reference to Friends. So is the throwaway reference to one of Melissa Madden’s sisters – Monica. Her sister Meghan is a reference to The Thorn Birds.

There are more references, and undoubtedly there will be more to come. Can you spot them all?

Progress Report – April 2012

April 2012 Posted Works

April 2012 was another busy month.

I continued spinning out Reversal on Star Trek Logs. Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill | April 2012

I added Broken Seal to Trek United, as I hadn’t put anything out there in a while.  Also, I updated There’s Something About Hoshi and posted it to Star Trek Logs. In addition, I started spinning out Together on Trek BBS and Ohio on Ad Astra. I also created The Facts on Ad Astra and The Rite on Star Trek Logs as a response to its first-ever prompt (I am running the prompts there, at least for now). Both of the latter two were ficlets brought about in order to flesh out some of the scenes in Fortune.

WIP Corner

I keep writing the E2 stories. And I continue to find points to stress or loose ends to tie up and some of those will end up in the fourth book, rather than the third one in that series. I think this will make it a better and more balanced series overall.

Plus I worked a lot on a Daranaean story called Flight of the Bluebird. I didn’t have as coherent a plan for it as I should have, but Kirok of L’Stok wants to put the Daranaean stories onto Issuu. Hence I had to get cracking, so the E2 stories were set aside in favor of finishing up Bluebird.

At this point, I also have my response to the Ad Astra prompt about sacrifices. The title is Equinox. It covers several scenes left out of Fortune.

Prep Work

I spent a lot of time making the website a lot more coherent and getting more of the In Between Days stories into correct chronological order.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

Looking for work continues to cramp my writing style, which I suppose is amusing but is also a tad serious. It can be difficult to get inspiration if you’re worried about continuing income.

Ad Astra’s forums were also down for a bit. That’s generally better for productivity for me, but I do miss the interactions, not to mention the prompts.

Portrait of a Character – Eriecho

Portrait of a Character – Eriecho

Eriecho comes from a place I did not expect.

Origin

I originally didn’t want to write Vulcans. I had had a lot of trouble making T’Pol more than a cardboard character with comments about logic or fascination. Vulcans were, to me, a difficult species to flesh out.

But then the challenge: write about the JJ Abrams Universe. But all you need to care about are three things:

  1. The destruction of Vulcan.
  2. There is no more USS Kelvin.
  3. The destruction of Romulus .

After that, it didn’t matter. And so I chose the first piece as the focus for my story. And so Eriecho – a name I had originally thought I would use for a Klingon woman – began to take shape.

Personality

Portrait of a Character – Eriecho

Born on a transport to Cannamar Prison, Eriecho starts out, in Release, as a person who has never known freedom.  I wanted her to be tough, too, as she would have to have been. There is nothing soft about Cannamar, a location that is canon but never on screen. My descriptions of Cannamar are similar to those of a Tandaran prison.

As a tough prison broad, Eriecho has survived by her wits. But the only Vulcan she has ever known, Saddik, who isn’t even related to her, has not taught her emotional suppression. Hence she was an emotional Vulcan, and she was a lot easier to write. The sole mother figure in her life is the only other female in Cannamar, the Suliban, H’Shema. When Release begins, H’Shema is already dead. And Saddik and Eriecho get their release from Cannamar, but they’re on their way to Mars.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Eriecho
For Eriecho, I wanted a tough woman who was not unattractive. I hit upon Mariel Hemingway in Personal Best. Hemingway just struck me as being a good mix of tough but vulnerable, and also pretty, e. g. someone who was redeemable, despite her background, and lovable, despite her history. The idea of Personal Best (which is a film about a lesbian athlete)  is not a statement about Eriecho’s sexuality.

Quote

“I have never had free time, unrestricted and unfettered before. I am afraid I will not know what to do with myself.”

Life After Prison

Release is, of course, about their release from prison. But after getting out, what happens? This is partly explored at the end of Release but also in the sequel, Double Helix. For Eriecho, who is a Vulcan without actually being too Vulcanesque, the answer lies with the Suliban.

Upshot

At the end of Star Trek XI (Star Trek 2009), Vulcans’ lives have been diminished considerably. But for Eriecho, her life has been expanded and enriched in ways she could not have dreamed.

Review – The Light

Review – The Light

Light shines throughout the galaxy.

The Elevator Pitch

I have been working in the corporate world, in some capacity or another since 1986. Frankly, it was even before that, as I would temp as a college and Law School student in order to make some summer spending money.

Barking Up the Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Light
The Light

One of the things I have perfected over the years is what’s called an Elevator Pitch. The gist of an elevator pitch is that you have the time of an elevator ride (e. g. thirty seconds to two minutes, tops) to make your pitch to a prospect employer who you, presumably, meet serendipitously in an elevator.

This means  that you need to strip your resumé and work history down to bare bones. A doctor, for example, can’t go into the details of some operation she performed last year. Instead, she says something like, “I’m an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. The Boston Celtics call on me when their medical staff is stumped.” In a very short amount of time, you get a very good idea of what this woman can do, and how trusted she is in the medical establishment.

For Star Trek fanfiction writing, I think there is a need for what is essentially the equivalent of an elevator pitch. That is, it should be a short piece which accurately gives the reader a taste of your universe, your ideas and what you can do. The Light is one such story.

History of the Story

This Star Trek:Enterprise fanfiction story did not set out to be that way. Instead, I was in the middle of spinning out Reversal (pretty close to the end) when in late 2010 I was asked to provide a story for a project called the Trek Twelve Days of Christmas. The only catch was that the story had to be fairly short – that is, it could not be a full-fledged book like Reversal.

I hit upon an idea. There would be some characters from Reversal, but really only minor ones, and the story would revolve around them. It ended up being just one of the minor characters from that story. And, the kicker, because you can find scads of Star Trek holiday stories about Christmas, this one would, instead, be about Chanukah.

Spirituality

Review – The Light
Position in which a Jewish kohen places his ha…

I am, as they say, a nice Jewish gal. And people like William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, but also Armin Shimerman, connect to Star Trek and are Jewish. Plus there are things like the Vulcan salute, and various space episodes centering around World War II, such as TOS’s Patterns of Force. Judaism is a part of Star Trek. But how to add it in, particularly without being overly preachy?

I hit upon the idea of Jews who are somewhat religious but not so much that they cannot function on a starship. That is, they have to, for example, be able to travel on the Sabbath. This means Orthodox Jews are out of the question. But Conservative Jews (which is my background; this references a sect and not a political affiliation) would work just fine for my purposes.

Chanukah was a natural introduction as a lot of people are familiar with it. The celebration, a festival of lights, also includes foods made with oil, such as potato latkes (pancakes), spinning a top called a dreidel and exchanging presents. The candelabra is called a menorah.

Bereavement

In order to add a little emotional heft to the story, and to explain why Captain Archer and the senior staff would be interested in the Jewish contingent on the ship, the story begins with a death. This link to the past also links us, the people of the present day, to the people on the NX-01.

The Plot

The story begins with an Admiral telling Captain Archer than Crewman Ethan Shapiro‘s great-aunt, Rachel Orenstein, has died. Jonathan wonders why the crewman’s family wouldn’t just tell him and the Admiral says they won’t communicate during the Sabbath. Jonathan presses the matter, still not convinced that he’s the best man for the job when the Admiral tells him to act quickly, as this is a major news story. Why? Because Rachel lived for one hundred and twenty-seven years (which places her birth in 2029). She broke all previous records and, therefore, the press has an interest in her family.

As Jonathan informs Ethan of the death, Ethan asks for leave for the unveiling of the head stone, explaining that the funeral will be too quick for him to ever get back to Earth in time. He also asks to be connected to the Starfleet Rabbi, Leah Benson.

Support

He returns to his quarters and waits for his friends. Lieutenant Reed comes by briefly, in order to offer his condolences as he is Ethan’s boss. The other three Jewish crew members arrive – Josh Rosen, who is in Engineering; Karin Bernstein, who works with Ethan in the Tactical Department; and Andrew Miller, who works in the Biology Lab and is half-Jewish. Andy is perhaps a year older than the others.

When they speak with the Rabbi, they ask how they are ever going to get a minyan together. In order to say Kaddish (the prayer over the dead), ten Jews must be present. Karin’s presence counts (that wasn’t the case when I was a child), but then what? There are only four Jews on the ship. The Rabbi tells them that they can temporarily deputize some non-Jewish friends.

When the time comes for mourning, Captain Archer brings along some friends to help. These include Hoshi who, when asked if she can read Hebrew jokes, “I’ll muddle through”, Malcolm, Phlox, T’Pol and a Security Crewman, Azar Hamidi. Azar notes that Hebrew can’t be too far off from Arabic. They say the prayers.

Celebration

Barking up the muse tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Dreidel | Chanukah | The Light
Dreidel

Ethan’s mother – who tells him to talk to that nice girl Karin a bit – insists that he celebrate Chanukah. So he invites all of the attendees at the service to a little party  on the next night. The party is in the Observation Lounge. Like all good parties, there’s a little dancing, a gift, good food to eat, and there’s a little bit of romance.

Story Postings

Review – The Light

 

Rating

The story is rated K.

Upshot

For the most part, I like it. There is a bit of shtick, though, particularly when Ethan and his mother talk. I could have probably trimmed that a bit, as Linda Shapiro comes across as a bit of a stereotype. But I do like using this story – which only contains a little over 3200 words – as one possible elevator pitch when people ask me how they can get an inkling of how I write. For a positive, K-rated peek at my world, read The Light.

And what happens to Ethan, Karin, Andy, Josh and Azar? To find out about them, and even about their Mirror Universe counterparts, there’s more in the In Between Days series, and even a little bit in the Times of the HG Wells series.

Portrait of a Character – Pamela Hudson

Portrait of a Character – Pamela Hudson

Pamela was originally a plot device. I was told – get a crew member to loosen up. Really loosen up.

But Pamela had other plans.

Theme Music

Portrait of a Character – Pamela Hudson
Amy Winehouse performing in Berlin in 2007

I was out walking, thinking over Intolerance and how to write it, when Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good came on the iPod. And that was it.

I listened to the song, over and over again, and Doctor Pamela Hudson was born.

Personality and Personal History

Controlling but out of control, with a healer’s profession but a selfish streak, Pamela was meant to be a femme fatale from the very beginning. In Intolerance, she is first introduced when Travis has figured out that there are female medical students coming to the NX-01 for an Immunology rotation. The assumption is that the women are single, and so he and Tripp Tucker and Malcolm Reed decide to compete for the women. When Pamela walks by, she’s wearing a not-too-revealing outfit, but her lips and nails are painted dark purple, and her hair is back and threatening to tumble down. So she puts her left hand up, and they see that she’s got a leather bracelet on and no rings on that hand. Wordlessly, she has communicated to them – I’m available.

She’s also communicated to them – I might be more than you bargained for.

Pamela is a child of privilege, and brilliant to boot (she went to Harvard Medical School), but her family carries a dark secret – ever since she was five years old, her father sexually abused her, while her mother watched. Her sister, Lisa, was unaffected.

She’s also (in conversations with fellow student Blair Claymore) established as being quite sexually liberated, to the point of worrying Blair. Blair, in contrast, is shown as the good girl. Both are attractive, but it’s Pamela who really turns heads.

In Together, her feelings are hurt when she is rejected – a rather unfamiliar scenario for her. In Temper, her Mirror counterpart is seen. In Fortune, she finds a soulmate in an unexpected place. And in Remembrance, her grand-nephew presents her eulogy.

Mirror Universe Counterpart

The Mirror Pamela has things even tougher than the one in the Prime Universe. In Temper, she is little more than one of José Torres‘s playthings (as are Blair and Karin Bernstein) in one of the alternate timelines. In Fortune and in He Stays a Stranger, she’s shown as a pinup girl. It’s unclear, at least in Temper, whether she’s a lab assistant or a doctor, and in the other Mirror Universe stories, she may be little more than a prostitute, if that.

Portrayal

Portrait of a Character – Pamela Hudson
Kaley Cuoco

I struggled a bit with figuring out who should “play” Pamela. I wanted someone who would be beautiful and sexy and smart, but also could evoke a certain amount of world-weary ennui. To my mind, Kaley Cuoco fit the bill rather well. Not only does she have serious geek cred, she also has some drama cred. I also felt she would be the kind of woman who Tripp would joke about as, “Please, you’re talking about the future Mrs. Tucker.”

Quote

“Never arrive to a party early or on time. No one should. It’s like the old Steady State theory of the universe. No beginning and no end. Or maybe it’s just turtles all the way down.”

Upshot

Portrait of a Character – Pamela Hudson

For a character who was originally supposed to be a one-off, Pamela graduated to In Between Days main character status. However, as something of an outsider, she doesn’t fit the profile of the other In Between Days main characters like Lili O’Day or Doug Beckett.

Pure id, but with a heart underneath all that leather and langor, Pamela is, ultimately, a femme fatale motivated by good.

Inspiration – Films

Roll it, Aidan!

Films creep into my Star Trek fanfiction in a lot of different ways.

Screenshot of the title screen of the trailer. | Films

In the most obvious manner, they have been the subject of the stories Movie Night and Broken Seal. I love the idea that Enterprise had a Movie Night. Canon puts it during a weeknight. But I have changed that to the weekends so that it can be the centerpiece of date night.

I have also added a Master of Ceremonies, Chip Masterson, and a projectionist, Aidan MacKenzie. Chip even holds a discussion of the film afterwards if anyone has an interest. But the talks only get sparse attendance. Every film in my stories, on the NX-01, begins with, “Roll it, Aidan!”

Films also, often, reflect a plot or inspire a character name or even something else. Here are a few films, and how they inspired.

Gaslight

In Reversal, Lili goes on a disastrous blind date for Movie Night, but the film is important because it’s about a man trying to drive his wife mad with untruths. It’s an oblique reference to plot points to come.

Dirty Dancing

In Intolerance, Pamela uses the film as a way to determine who’s been sending her sonnets. The film also pushes in some music that’s germane to the plot, such as The Ronettes’ Be My Baby.

The King of Hearts

In Together, Malcolm attends this foreign film – even though, in canon, he’d prefer films with a lot of explosions in them – in the hopes of seeing someone.

Grease

This film comes up twice. Once, as a quickie Shakespearean reference to Arden (Eve Arden, invoking the Forest of Arden from As You Like It) in Intolerance, and again in Fortune, where it works to essentially babysit an ailing elderly character who is losing memory.

Casablanca

This film is the subject of a future date in Fortune. The reference is to it as one of the most romantic films of all time.

Rashomon

This film, with its differing perspectives, is to help determine whether any portions of several conflicting stories make sense, in Fortune.

Back to the Future

The time ships in the HG Wells series are all named for various bits of time travel pop culture ephemera. This includes the Flux Capacitor, often called Fluxy.

The Graduate

Even though he’s about her age, in Ohio, when Sheilagh Bernstein says, “Agent Daniels, are you trying to seduce me?” that’s a reference to The Graduate.

Stalag 17

In Movie Night, Malcolm and Melissa make plans to watch this film. And it’s one of the few times I have Malcolm going to a movie that he may have picked out. This film also gets a reference in Day of the Dead and characters Herbie Shapiro and Stanislaus Kuzawa.

The Seventh Seal

In Broken Seal, Chip Masterson hypes this highbrow film, but not too many people show up. T’Pol does, though, as it’s intended to be a film that would probably be more likely to appeal to her than to anyone. Phlox talks throughout the picture as he and Malcolm try to figure out the symbolism, and then Malcolm talks to his girl about it, and asks a bit more about the symbolism.

Films"

Little movie references also abound – Claire Crossman is a reference to Molly Ringwald’s character in The Breakfast Club. Jeremiah Logan Beckett is, in part, named for Logan’s Run. There’s even a small shout out to The Wizard of Oz in Reversal.

In a small way, too, the Terminator films are also an influence, as the temporally paradoxical character of John Connor is referenced a bit by the equally temporally paradoxical character of Jun Sato.

Undoubtedly, more films will creep in and I’ll have to revisit this topic. Why, I haven’t even mentioned Kramer vs. Kramer!

Spotlight on Original Drug – Tricoulamine

Origins of Tricoulamine

(229/365) Daily injection | Tricoulamine
Tricoulamine

In my Star Trek fanfiction, Tricoulamine started off as a kind of garden-variety nerve toxin. It’s, in some ways, what a criminal would get as a lethal injection. Or it’s like the cyanide pills that you see in spy movies.

As I progressed with writing fan fiction, I found it was useful for a few other purposes. First of all, it comes in several forms. For humans, it’s either in tablet or injectable form. For Klingons – and it’s not fatal to them; it just knocks them out – it’s a sand-color gas. For Calafans, it occurs naturally in their environment, and is meant to be akin to a form of cyanide being found in peach pits.

Formats

It first shows up in Reversal (injectible form), then in Intolerance (gas), then in Temper (naturally occurring), then in Fortune (tablet), then in Escape and The Point is Probably Moot (both times, it’s a tablet. Escape contains a missing scene from The Point). In Fortune and The Point, it comes out that it is particularly difficult to get if you’re not a physician. However, since it occurs naturally in the environment of the Lafa System, if humans settle there, then there is the potential for people to get it without a prescription.

The name is, in part, reflects the poison grain from The Trouble With Tribbles episode for TOS, quadrotriticale.

Effects

For Klingons, it just knocks them out, and is not harmful. It’s unclear how long the unconscious state lasts. In Intolerance, the Klingons are out for a few days or so,. However, they are already in a weakened state. So it’s unclear.

For humans, it hits your digestive tract or bloodstream and you’re a goner. Fortunately, it’s fast enough that there is little to no pain. In Temper, a human victim of tricoulamine poisoning appeared to be sleeping.

It is unknown how it affects other species, and since it occurs naturally in their environment, it’s possible that it doesn’t affect Calafans at all.

Pronunciation Guide

You can pronounce it as either tri-coo-la-meen or tri-coh-la-meen.

Portrait of a Character – Leonora (Norri) Digiorno

Portrait of a Character – Leonora (Norri) Digiorno

Leonora has a history from before my start writing Star Trek fan fiction.

All characters are me, and I am all characters.

At least, that is, when it comes to the originals. And when it comes to Star Trek canon, there are plenty of things that I add, so those additions are me, too.

Roots

Leonora was kicking around for a few years, even before I started writing Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction, which was back in April of 2005. Actually, it was just her first name. She was originally a kind of foundling. The character was a girl from medieval times who was orphaned by the Black Death and saved (from a bear – hey, I like Shakespeare) by being plucked out for a time travel purpose. I modified the time travel series quite a bit in order to create a series of stories called Times of the HG Wells, but I brought Norri in earlier, for the In Between Days series, although she is seen a little during the Wells series. Confused yet?

I hadn’t originally written her as a lesbian, either, but the idea presented itself because I was looking for a parallel to a day/night concept that I had going on. The In Between Days series gives its main characters active nighttime lives (through the dream state) which are almost as important as their daylight lives. To really bring the point home, I created a bi character, Melissa Madden. But Melissa needed a lesbian lover in order to pull it all off, so Norri emerged.

Symbolism

Portrait of a Character - Leonora (Norri) Digiorno
Alyson Hannigan at a celebration of the 100th …

Norri is the most literary of the main characters in the In Between Days series, starting off as a book editor, eventually getting her PhD and writing a book of her own. At the time I was shaping her, I was working for a book publisher, so she partly evolved from that. Her last name, of course, means “of the day”, so she is not only an embodiment of daytime, she also parallels main character Lili O’Day (who is also “of the day”). Furthermore, five of the six main characters (everyone but Pamela Hudson) are associated with elements. Norri is outside of what we might think of as the four traditional “elements”, and so hers is the Hindu fifth element – communications (sometimes called the ether or the void, which makes sense in space).

Visualization

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Norri | Red | Leonora
Norri D’Giorno (image of Alyson Hannigan is for educational purposes only)

It was important for me to see Norri as being “played” by an actress who has played at least one gay character already. She would be young but wise beyond her years, and to be a redhead. Hence, Alyson Hannigan.

Background

I also like the idea of Norri being someone who is somewhat remote. Of all of the main characters in the In Between Days series, you learn the least about her. And that’s by design. Of the five big books in that series, Temper and Fortune have the most information about her, and even then she’s really just a sketch.

She even gets a second nickname which is a misnomer. Malcolm refers to her as “Lioness” or “the Lioness”, when the truth is that her name means “light”. So she’s a kind of double light and daytime character.

Personality

As a person, she is forced to rise to the occasion. She must commit some forms of self-sacrifice several times. This is whether it’s to become Neil’s sole caregiver in Temper, or to shepherd children away so that various couples can have their privacy. But she gets her due. And so she is the final commenter and recordkeeper when it comes to the lives of the principal characters in the In Between Days series.

In fact, in his last moments, Tommy thinks of her and also recalls her book, The Human Pioneers of Lafa II.

Her sexuality is rarely at issue. She acknowledges that she was very aware of it certainly by the time she graduated from college. However, her parents were wary of it, and her father hoped she would grow out of it (I explore this in An Announcement). Of course, that doesn’t happen. Her scenes with Melissa are as intimate as those between the straight couples. Norri also begins her romance more conventionally than most of the others do – she meets Melissa in a bar.

Mirror Universe

Norri barely makes an appearance in the MU, save for her death, which is particularly senseless.

Alyson Hannigan
Alyson Hannigan (Photo credit: Jessica Finson)

Her murder is recalled, somewhat remorsefully, in Bread.

Music

Not every character has a musical theme, but Leonora does. As one might expect, it’s Elvis Costello’s “Every Day I Write the Book”.

Quote

“It’s not necessarily unfair. You’d be sleeping. Everybody sleeps. I can’t get into your dreams. All that’s changing now, really, is that I know, more or less, what those dreams are. But you and I, we have the big thing, the big love.”

Upshot

Book smart and funny, Norri is the essence of communication, holding everyone together, and making everything spin.

Barking Up The Muse Tree | jespah | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Norri| Red | Leonora
Norri (Red)

Introduction, Ground Work and Housekeeping

A Little Housekeeping

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 Fanfiction.net. 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 Fanfiction.net.

Ratings

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.

Spoilers

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.

Schedule

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.

Plus

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!