So March 2016 proved to be another quiet month as school, work, and the G & T Show podcast took up a lot of my time. As a result, there was no new fan fiction created during this calendar month. However, a lot of my older works were distributed to wider and wider audiences. I am grateful for the recognition I have been getting for some of these pieces.
See the Stats page for individual read and review counts.
I worked even more closely with beta readers on The Enigman Cave, getting it more polished and ready for querying. The story is almost there and I hope it does well.
So I continued to work on the upcoming 2016 NaNoWriMo wholly original story, The Real Hub of the Universe, getting to know my main characters better and fleshing out the secondary characters a lot more. As a result, the project is looking really good and I am happy to be getting ready to write it.
This Month’s Productivity Killers
Work, school, the podcast, family stuff, you name it! I was busy or tired for much of the time, and often both. Hence, there was little new stuff to add.
Branch Borodin is such a wacky character, he’s also in some wholly original writing.
I conducted a thought experiment, thinking about what it would be like if someone’s cells were sentient. Hence they would almost be a pocket-size version of the Borg, but without the cybernetics and without the nasty assimilation issues.
Instead, they would be more of a colony of like-minded microscopic individuals. Unlike canon shape shifters, they would have no real central consciousness, and would have to find some way to agree on whatever it was that they wanted to do. Hence they would also be overly committed to democracy.
The character is quite a bit like a walking, talking coral reef, except the individuals in the colony are a lot smarter. Polls and straw votes are common, and the individuals sometimes hold caucuses. Furthermore, just like in real-life voting, there is no guarantee of 100% participation. In fact, it’s rare. After all, the cells have other jobs to do. Much like in you or me, the cells are also conducting respiration, etc. They don’t always have the time to just drop everything and vote.
I love how this actor can seem at sea at sometimes, and thoughtful at others.
Yes, there is a bit of a stoner look and feel, and a wooden air. But that’s the idea; Branch isn’t exactly Mr. Personality. I mean for him to be very, very alien. Excuse me, they.
Found by the Temporal Integrity Commission during a meeting, the entity touches Deirdre Katzman, and picks up her memory of her first boyfriend, Anatoly Borodin. Since the entity needs a name, and it had just been a branched tree, Deirdre dubs the colony Branch Borodin. The name sticks, and it also evokes Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances (“A Stranger in Paradise”). A fitting reference for someone who is more of a stranger than other aliens.
Hence Branch’s personality is whatever is convenient and reasonable at the time, more or less. For an entity that has been a tree, a coat of paint, and a chair, that would more or less tend to follow.
Branch just is. Er, are.
The colony is not exactly capable of a relationship like you or I would have. Because every decision, every argument, every expression of affection – these would all require a vote. But Branch might relate to the Var-gi-yeh, who I envision to be more or less a female version of the same species.
Branch reminds me of jazzy, funky, weird rhythms and things that sound off and strange.
In a way, the Var-gi-yeh are the mirror version of Branch. They’ll get their own blog post, some time in the future.
“The cuff of Lo passed to the descendants of Thomas Grant and Eleanor Daniels Grant. The family eventually donated it here. The key charm and Xindi initiation medal passed to the children of Richard Daniels and Milena Chelenska Daniels.The museum has facsimiles as that family is retaining those pieces. This sword is Ironblaze, once owned by the Empress Hoshi Sato. It passed to her descendants, and the descendants of Charles Tucker VI, and was kept in trust by the adopted descendants of mirror High Priestess Yimar and her consort, Joshua Rosen. The original is in the mirror’s version of this museum – what is being shown to you is a facsimile.
The wedding rings worn by Douglas Jay Hayes Beckett and his wife, Lili, passed to, eventually, the descendants of Henry Desmond Avery IV and Sheilagh Bernstein, who retain them. The wedding rings worn by Lili O’Day Reed and Malcolm Reed passed to their descendants, who are with us today – the Ishikawa family of Dawitan. That family also retains the rings although we do have facsimiles. As Deirdre Katzman Ishikawa had said, ‘Wedding rings are to be worn.’”
Branch is my oddest character creation. I really like them.
Like most adults of my generation, I have gone out to work.
I’ve had good jobs and bad ones, interesting ones and dull ones. I’ve been challenged, I’ve been browbeaten and I’ve been inspired. I’ve come home exhilarated, weepy, frustrated and exhausted. I’ve had situations that I wished would never end. And I’ve had jobs where I was climbing the walls, impatient to leave already.
These experiences can and do inform my Star Trek fanfiction at times.
Connections to Trek
The best and closest connection is in the HG Wells series. Those stories, in addition to being about Richard Daniels and his enlightenment, and about various romances and of course about time, they are also, very much, about the world of work.
A Long, Long Time Ago contains within it a group interview and then a series of small one on one meetings. Otra conducts at least one of these meetings, and is satisfied with the candidate, until someone else hears her being referred to, by that candidate, as a salad head. That’s a slur, so that candidate is out, and there is no question.
You Mixed-Up Siciliano, meant to be a vacation in time (it’s 1960 Rome) turns into a disaster when Rick and Sheilagh are targeted by an assassin.
We like to think that Starfleet personnel are just brought in, and that the best people are always hired and there is very little effort behind that. To my mind, that never rang true. I think there was effort behind it. And I also think that, sometimes, it’s not the best person who gets hired. Just like real life.
I like how Perry comes across as an intelligent person, but also as, at times, quite a bit of a screw-up. Joss is no screw-up, but he’s got a certain kind of vulnerability that I believe Perry also has.
Joss also needs to be the somewhat reluctant leader of the family. Tommy is the military man, Neil is in business, and Declan and Marie Patrice are artistic. Joss has to be the one who, quietly and responsibly, gets things done.
Affable and kind, Joss is an animal lover from the very beginning. At a precocious age, he already knows that he wants to become a veterinarian. Eventually, he opens up his own clinic on Lafa II, the Beckett Veterinary Hospital.
While in the Mirror Universe, there is no love for animals, so Joss instead channels his considerable talents into playing mirror baseball. This is one way that he can keep from having to become a soldier and a killer.
While in the mirror, because Jia is not there, Joss is alone. As the other children group and regroup, Joss remains on the sidelines, and does not try for Takara (even though she is a little bit interested) or Tripp‘s daughter, Betsy Tucker.
A mirror universe version of Joss is impossible, as he is a cross between a prime universe mother and a mirror universe father. However, he did spend time in the mirror.
Because Joss (and his siblings) had nearly no adult supervision, and he was the eldest, he took it upon himself to look out for everyone. This is only partly successful.
With Marie Patrice, she’s fairly well out of control, and he has little influence. The same is true of Tommy. With Declan, however, he is able to exert some influence. Then again, Dec is more or less being abused by the Empress‘s family. If Joss doesn’t watch out for Dec, sensitive Dec could easily become phaser fodder. Joss doesn’t want that.
“I am so not interested in her, not any more. She was – I mean, I’m a guy. I can’t help but to react to her, how she looks, what she wears and all.”
I’ve enjoyed exploring several aspects of Joss’s life. He’ll be back.
Pets inspire. A lot of my characters come from, in one way or another, people I have known. But some come from animals.
I am a dog person and make no secret of the fact. The first dog character I wrote in Star Trek fanfiction was the Star Trek: Enterprise canon character, Porthos, in The Adventures of Porthos.
Caitians of course are canon, and they are felinoid. So the idea was to respond directly to that, with a canid species. I had been reading about the marsupial wolf and so the two ideas were combined, and the Daranaeans were born.
A Dog’s Eye View
Their personalities tend to be canine, too, from their pack-like hierarchy to their desire to sleep communally to the lower castes’ need to serve. The pack structure is shown off in The Cure is Worse Than the Disease and Beta individuals challenging the Alpha are shown in Take Back the Night.
In the upcoming Barnstorming series, their sports are even doglike, including mazes (based upon lure coursing), ring throwing (based upon frisbee) and staggered relay (based on agility).
The hyperactivity of the press parallels, in particular, terriers that I have known. The sentient marsupial canids are great fun to write.
I am allergic to cats and have never had one as a pet. However of course I have known plenty of felines as pets. For Caitian character Parenelsa, her shyness is absolutely based on shy and withdrawn cats, as in The Further Adventures of Porthos – The Stilton Fulfillment. But Ambassador Gopalahr, and the explorer, M’Roan, are a lot more adventurous. M’Roan was shown off to quirky effect in A Single Step.
Visual artists are not exactly canon. Star Trek isn’t known . While there might be artwork on people’s walls, or on shelves, it’s more likely to be something almost functional – or at least unbreakable. After all, ships get tossed around an awful lot.
But I wanted readers to have people they could relate to. And I think visual artists are rather relatable, as their work is similar to what artists do now. Painting, as a technique, has in some ways not changed significantly since we were living in caves. It’s still pigments on some form of canvas. And pottery is even closer to what our remote ancestors were doing.
In Intolerance, Dr. Keleth dreams of home. This includes the paintings, wall hangings and sculptures created by his wife, L’Kor. Even though she is paralyzed from the waist down, she can still be a productive and highly creative artist.
Lili and Malcolm‘s son is a gifted artist from a young age. In Temptation, Cria and Mistra look over a letter from Malcolm which includes one of Declan’s drawings. Dec is only a young child, but he is still pronounced “very good” by the two Daranaeans. Later, he attends school at Oxford, and is seen there during Flight of the Bluebird. And in Fortune, after Lili and Malcolm have passed on, Declan goes to Europe and, in part, it is to study Monet’s Water Lilies at Giverny.
With little reason to have a visual artist on hand, it’s no surprise that there are no visual artist characters in this series yet, not even in the background.
For Azar and Maryam‘s wedding, the Muslim bride’s hands are painted with food coloring, as there is no henna. These include images of procul and malostrea. The artist is an amateur. She is a Navigational crewman who is otherwise not really seen much.
It’s not until Hearts in Time that Inta reveals she is an artist, to Hank Harrison. He takes a look and tells her he thinks her work is very good. She wonders a bit if she could go to a big art school, perhaps with Declan, in order to not only further her education but also maybe meet a man (of pretty much any species) who would truly appreciate her. Later, in Confidence, she starts school, and a gift to Malcolm is her drawing of Declan.
For this new series, I want another Daranaean artist. This time, the female is from the third caste (Inta II is from the second caste). Crita is also ambidextrous, and is a bit of a novelty, as she can draw two different images with both hands, simultaneously. This is not an impossibility (at least not for humans, as President James Garfield apparently could write Greek with one hand, and Latin with the other, at the same time). Much like Inta II, she is also a bit lacking in confidence, but at least Crita is trying to make a living at art.
I want my Star Trek fanfiction to have an artistic angle that it just doesn’t have in the series or the films. While characters (Data in particular) might paint, no one is really good at it. And rightly so, as they are, instead, engineers or doctors or the like. But in a sophisticated society, there will always be visual artists. I know I will add more as I can.
I’m a married woman. And I have been so for over two decades. It was natural, to me, for my marriage to creep into my writing a bit.
Oh, the marriage proposal! It’s an occasion for romance and solemnity, but sometimes some silliness as well. In A Kind of Blue, Lili‘s unexpected pregnancy means that Doug drops to one knee when he drops the testing stick – and then he pops the question. In Truth, Bron works hard to convince Sophra’s parents that he will provide for her and love her, and that he won’t physically hurt her, seeing as he’s a Gorn and she’s a Cardassian.
The E2 stories in particular show tons of weddings. Captain Archer is nearly always the officiant, and so he has to learn all sorts of ceremonies.
Because Chandrasekar Khan is Hindu and Hoshi Sato is a lapsed Buddhist, he may have conducted some sort of combined ceremony for them as well, but neither version is shown. He also conducts a Vulcan ceremony for Tripp and T’Pol, but that is only shown for the first kick back in time and not the second.
Cultural traditions or at least something from the Bible (often the Old Testament, and that’s only because I’m more familiar with it) are also inserted into a lot of these ceremonies. For Karin and Josh, for example, it’s the story of Ruth.
In A Kind of Blue, Lili and Doug marry in the more or less traditional Calafan style. This includes not only the two of them standing up and saying vows, but their required attendants. Treve and Miva aren’t exactly Best Man and Maid of Honor. Rather, they serve to symbolize the openness of those marriages.
In Together, when they decide to open up their marriage to Malcolm and Melissa (and, by extension, Leonora), they copy the Calafan style of doing things. That is, there is a primary daytime male-female twosome union, and a pair of nighttime lovers. One for him, one for her. This arrangement, and the Calafan tradition, can happen because of the psionic properties of the entire Lafa System. With shared dreaming that can often become steamy, married couples can have a second relationship. Hence they almost “cheat” but with far fewer consequences.
For the Calafans, the cheating aspect was eliminated by keeping the Mirror Universe Calafans on their own side of the proverbial pond. But when the Mirror teenaged High Priestess Yimar decides to throw open the door permanently (it was opened a crack in order to let Doug through to the Prime Universe), things get a bit stickier. The Calafan people initially adapt because interbreeding is impossible between Mirror and Prime Universe Calafans (although it’s possible between Mirror and Prime Universe humans). However, by the time of Richard and Eleanor Daniels‘s births, interbreeding is possible (they are both part-human from both universes, part-Vulcan, and part-Calafan from both universes). I have not yet explored how the Calafan people handle the end of this final barrier between the two universes.
For Daranaeans, marriage is a commercial affair, as wives from three separate castes are purchased by their husbands. Divorce does not exist; wives are merely sold to others if found wanting. Or third caste females end up as the subjects of medical experimentation.
Seppa’s life changes when Brantus purchases her to be his third caste wife. But they love each other, and are a good match, as he is with his two other wives, Anatha and Raelia, in Flight of the Bluebird.
Seppa’s mother, Inta, dies as a result of domestic abuse, and the secondary wife, Mistra, is very nearly convicted of the murder of her unborn male fetus, in Take Back the Night. It is the Prime Wife, Dratha, who helps to get Mistra exonerated.
And in The Cure is Worse Than the Disease, the secondary wife, Libba, and the third caste wife, Cama, are not treated well at all by the Prime Wife, Thessa. The triangular dynamic works in her favor but against the two of them.
There are any number of between the sheets moments for these couples. These are part of many of the stories, particularly in Together and Fortune. In You Make Me Want to Scream, Keiko Ishikawa O’Brien reveals that things with Miles are very, very good. Married people having a good time are also all over the E2 stories. This includes two instances of characters (one male, one female) losing their virginity.
There’s more to marriage than weddings and sex. There are homes and families. In Pacing and The Gift, Doug works on making a home for Lili. That home is being added to in Temper. In Fortune, Malcolm realizes he needs to do something similar. However, because he has less of a mechanical inclination and isn’t around as much, he doesn’t help build the home. Whereas Doug helps build his own house, a small plot point in Together.
Children aren’t a part of every single marriage, but when they are, they are of course a huge part of any couple’s (or group’s) life. Tumult covers some of the ways that children can change the dynamic. And older children, as in An Announcement, can change it again.
Later Years, to Death and Beyond
Marriages with longevity mean that people experience each other’s inevitable declines. In A Single Step, Zefram Cochrane and Lily Sloan Cochrane quite literally depart at death, as do Doug, Lili and Malcolm in Fortune. In Candy, Kevin O’Connor is the main caregiver for Josie (Jhasi), his critically ill wife. To honor their marriage, he takes her to renew their wedding vows. Jonathan and Miva are shown in later years in A Hazy Shade.
The E2 stories contain a few calls for divorce. Plus the captain conducts one during the first kick back in time , between Mara Brodsky and Robert Slater. The cause is adultery – hers – as there is a child who clearly is not Robert’s. And he turns out to be the son of Star Trek: Enterprise canon character Walter Woods, who she later marries. In the second kick back in time, this is avoided when Mara and Walter marry. Therefore Robert, instead, marries Ingrid Nyqvist. In Together, Lili and Doug fight bitterly and consider divorce, but ultimately decide against it, particularly to protect not only their love but also their son, Joss.
People don’t just ride off into the sunset. And I prefer it that way. They have lives and arguments and privacy violations and sicknesses and sorrows. But they also have kindness, sexiness, togetherness and some pretty profound joys. It doesn’t have to be in the context of marriage, and sometimes it isn’t. But for the characters who do wed, I hope I’ve done their unions some justice.
For the past five years, I have become much more of an exercise devotée. I had needed to lose a lot of weight and, through exercise in part, I was able to accomplish that. Hence exercise has become a part of my life.
A lot of that comes in the form of walking. And by walking around, I see things that I otherwise would not.
And that can sometimes bring on some unexpected inspiration.
For Boris Yarin, I grabbed his name from the Toyota Yaris. I have no particular affection for this car; it just so happened to be a name plate that I saw over and over again for a while there.
Daranaeans are mainly inspired by various dogs I’ve met in my travels.
Exercise also tends to help in terms of working out dialog. I can “hear” it in my head as I walk, and I am away from the keyboard (which means I am away from things like Facebook as well). Plus there’s music. For Pamela Hudson in particular, that character was so defined by her theme music that I received inspiration whenever I listened to Amy Winehouse’sYou Know I’m No Good. I mainly listen to music when I am walking, and I would listen to that song over and over again as I was writing Intolerance and then, later, Together, as Pamela has a cameo in that book, too. It was, in many ways, like taking dictation.
I don’t just walk. Sometimes, I run, and it’s generally in the context of 5K races (I run between 9 and 12 every year these days). Because I am busy dealing with my pacing and timing, I usually am unable to work out dialog, etc.
However, the sheer act of racing has proven inspirational. I wanted one of the Digiorno-Madden-Beckett offspring to have a weight problem, so I settled on Neil Digiorno-Madden. Neil is the only one of the prime universe/prime timeline children to become a chef (Joss Reed-Hayes also becomes a chef and he even succeeds Lili and Will Slocum in that area, but he is from the first E2 temporal kick-back and is not a part of the prime timeline), hence there can often be weight issues when you are tasting food all day long.
I also wanted Neil to be doing something about it, so he was mentioned as running a 5K in Fortune. Eventually just that little story was told, in The Medal.
I truly believe that working out and getting away from the keyboard have both helped a great deal in terms of keeping writer’s block at bay. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and one word in front of the next and you’ll get somewhere eventually!
I don’t write Star Trek fanfiction in a vacuum. Like anyone else, life gets in the way, it meanders around or my writing does, and the two collide. For what is writing without a connection to real life events?
Dating, Love, Wedding and Marriage
My own marriage and wedding are a bit of fiction fodder, I admit it, and back into dating, too, of course. These are major life events, and the lead up to them as well. A Kind of Blue absolutely evokes the excitement of my own wedding (I was not pregnant) and also a little bit of the uncertainty about the future. You wonder if everything is going to be all right. So far, so good.
I have no children of my own, so my nephews stand in for the kids I write about. Stories such as Tumult give life to the sense of waiting around – seemingly forever – in hospital rooms. Small children are seen there, and in Together, Temper, and Fortune, among other places, including The Facts.
Life at Work
I’ve had any number of work experiences, much like anyone of my age does. In particular, the HG Wells stories evoke work and working conditions. I’ve had bosses like Carmen Calavicci. She’s a bit brassy but she gets the job done. In A Long, Long Time Ago, potential employees are put through a group interviewing process – and I have been through such interviews, too. As the series progresses and the time travelers learn to work together, that also evokes various work experiences. People do not immediately have chemistry. Sometimes you need to really try in order to make things work.
Justice and Mercy
I’ve practiced law (that was a long, long time ago!), and so I’ve seen trials and I’ve been behind the scenes. I wanted Shell Shock to bring a lot of that knowledge to the fore. A pair of trials are also conducted in the E2 stories. I wanted very much for the concept of people trying to do the right thing, even if they don’t necessarily have the means or knowledge with which to do so, to be understood by the reader.
Medical Care and Crises
I have seen people who were very sick and, truly, dying. Of course I don’t just witness such things and take notes for my writing or anything. I am not outside of the moment. But these things do happen, and they are, indeed, remembered. In the E2 stories, and in Shell Shock, characters emerge from comas (in the former, the emergence is overtly included, in the latter, only the aftermath is seen).
For Star Trek to be Star Trek, there are any number of ships, aliens and whiz-bang effects. But, more importantly, there are people. And those people tend to have experiences that are a lot like our own, or at least their experiences should be similar to ours. Otherwise, it’s just a lot of ships whooshing by and a lot of explosions, and not much else. Fine in the moment, but not memorable, and certainly nothing that has survived for over four and a half decades. It’s the stories about people that survive. By placing my own experiences into my writing, I am hoping, if not for immortal stories, then at least for tales with more depth. I hope I’ve achieved a small measure of that.
It was another highly productive month. The Mirror Universe contextual collection, Hall of Mirrors, saw the following additions – The High Cost of Dissidence, Paving Stones Made from Good Intentions, First Born, Reversal, Brown, Coveted Commodity, Temper and Fortune.
I also answered a prompt about rituals with the Times of the HG Wells prequel, Candy. Also, I spun out Shake Your Body, the penultimate HG Wells book. I responded to the “hold on” prompt with Souvenirs, an HG Wells story taking place right after Spring Thaw. Then I added Detroit Rock City and A Single Step to In Between Days context. In response to the Burdens of Command challenge, I wrote Day of the Dead, to be posted on Halloween itself.
I had not added anything whatsoever to The Delphic Expanse in a long time, so I decided to float a drabble about Tripp and T’Pol and her pregnancy with Lorian, so I answered a year-old prompt for the word “free”, and wrote Free.
I also had not contributed anything to Trek United in months, so I added Voracious and Harvest.
Concord and Letters from Home got particularly good receptions, so I decided to see if I can post there every Monday and Thursday (I had been posting only on Mondays), schedule permitting.
On Star Trek Logs, because there was a Vulcan/Romulan week, I added Achieving Peace. I also spun out Concord there, as that story had gotten raves on Fanfiction.net. It was also well-received there.
Plus I added stories to the Archer’s Angels board, where they created an official fan fiction forum, Alien Encounter and The Black Widow. Hence I added both of these because of Halloween. Then I added A Single Step, and started a challenge there, called A Thousand Words. My response was an In Between Days extreme prequel story called Detroit Rock City.
For the Trek BBS Nightmares challenge, I added a Wesley Crusher story, Imprecision.
On October 15th, Reversal on Ad Astra rang up 10,000 views, the most I have ever had on any given story. That story has been out there since August of 2011, which is part of the reason for the high numbers. I am particularly pleased that there are over 260 views for each chapter, telling me that a lot of people hung in with it until the end.
For overall totals (e. g. adding up view totals for everywhere a story is posted online, Reversal is still the big winner, with over 15,000 views. Next highest is Together with over 12,000 views and then Intolerance with over 8,000 overall views. These are all understandable, as I originally wrote them back in 2010. More interesting is that Take Back the Night has an overall total approaching 4,000 views, and that story is only from late 2011 and is only on Ad Astra.
I continued working on the E2 stories when I could. My plan is to begin spinning them out in January, so I am trying to get a full draft of the fourth story done before then.
I created an HTML version of He Stays a Stranger, in anticipation of spinning it out in November. I created a somewhat bowdlerized version of Fortune for eventual posting on Fanfiction.net.
This Month’s Productivity Killers
I worked on the Trek United Adult Trek Anthology. Plus I also attended five job interviews – more than I had for several months, combined. I am doing a lot of the distribution of work in anticipation of going back to work soon. Furthermore, I continued working on the Adult Anthology, and made a great deal of progress with it.