Welcome, Duke!

After the loss of our beloved Kumar, we grieved for several weeks. At first, Nelson seemed to enjoy being an “only puppy,” since he was now the center of attention and getting all the love and pets he could ask for. Not that we hadn’t love him before, but now we no longer had “Erich’s Kumar” and “Jamie’s Nelson,” the way it had kind of settled into for the past three years. Now Nelson was it!

But it became clear he was missing his older brother. Walks weren’t as much fun anymore, without Kumar sniffing at interesting things beside him. Everything was more… subdued, for Nelson and for us.

But Erich and I had made the decision to get another dog, back when Kumar was undergoing chemo. It wasn’t an easy decision—we didn’t like the feeling that we were looking to “replace” Kumar. Nothing could ever replace Kumar. But I knew how hard it would be when we lost Kumar. I’d lost my dog, Lady, shortly before meeting Erich, and I was so devastated I couldn’t even think about getting another dog for almost a decade. Eventually, I persuaded Erich, and he promised me another puppy for Christmas.

It didn’t work out that way. But Erich told me he still wanted to honor his promise to me, even though it was painful now. So I went to the local shelter websites and discovered an adorable yellow Lab pup. I called the shelter and they said he was still available, so my friend Claire and I decided to visit them in a couple of days. I wasn’t going to get a pup without Erich’s approval, of course, but I thought it might be easier if I made the first steps while he was working. However, he insisted upon taking time off work to accompany us.

We drove to the Cocheco Valley Humane Society in Dover, NH and met the puppy I’d been interested in. He was very fearful of strangers and not particularly interested in us. So while we debated if we wanted to win him over, the staff brought out some other dogs they thought we might be interested in. The first was a sweet girl who’d recently had pups. We’d kind of hoped for a large dog, though. She was small, and after a polite greeting, she drifted away from us. One of the problems with shelters is that the dogs come to love the staff more than the weird strangers who come in. It’s understandable, but makes it more challenging when you want to find out if a dog will fit into your household.

Then they brought out Duke.

Duke immediately ran to us and began slathering our faces with dog kisses. He had no fear of strangers, he was big—we still don’t know how big he’ll get, but he’s nearly as big as Kumar and obviously still growing—and he seemed to like Nelson. They played for a bit, though Nelson was very nervous, especially after the 40-minute car ride. (He hates being in the car.) I took one look at Erich’s delighted smile as Duke tried to bathe his entire face in wet dog kisses and I knew we’d found our pup.

I’d be lying if I said Duke was settling in easily. We’ve had a much bigger struggle with him than we ever did with Kumar and Nelson. His idea of play is to body slam you, whack you in the face with the back of his head, gnaw on your hands, and push you down the stairs. Woo-hoo! I almost never raised my voice to Kumar, but Duke has me shouting myself hoarse and spraying him constantly with the water bottle. Crate timeouts are about the only thing that will calm him down, once he gets going.

But when he is calm, he’s a sweet, loving pup we can’t resist. We’re doing our best to help us all adjust to one another. Erich and I are in our 50s and have health issues that limit how much we can run around with him. I take Duke and Nelson for walks in our forest once a day, we’ve booked him into doggie daycare (though he’s occasionally had to be given timeouts there for fighting over toys), and we have a dog pen he and Nelson can run around in. Nelson doesn’t seem very interested in playing with Duke, most of the time. Sometimes. But he doesn’t have nearly as much energy as Duke has (He’s five and a half, now—no longer full of puppy energy), and it’s been a challenge to get them to play nicely together. Nelson can hold his own against Duke, despite Duke being a bit larger, but he doesn’t always seem to like it. So we’re trying to keep an eye on them and pull him out when he’s tired.

Overall, it’s been a challenge, but Duke is gradually learning to behave himself with us. We still haven’t dared invite our friend with the small dog over—the last thing we want is for Duke to hurt him, even inadvertently—and we still have to give him a lot of timeouts when he’s out of control. But more and more he’s becoming part of our family.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Goodbye, Kumar

It’s the end of an era for my household. On Tuesday, nearly midnight, we were forced to make the hardest decision in our 20+ years together. We had to say goodbye to Kumar.

In 2010, we moved into our new house, got a dog, and got married—in that order. When we looked around the SPCA shelter, we couldn’t agree on any of the dogs there, and it was only by chance that a dog who’d been outside for a walk happened to return, just as we were leaving. We knew instantly that he was our dog.

Kumar was a year and a half old, full of energy and love for every person and dog he met (though he gave the cats a wide berth). We had trouble finding a harness that could hold him, at first, and he slipped his lead more than once, chasing after turkeys or deer in the forest, while I ran after him, cursing. But once I caught up to him, one look from those soulful brown eyes swept away my anger in an instant. We could never get mad at him.

 

He was the inspiration for the character, Shadow, in my first successful novel, Billy’s Bones—his love of stuffed ducks, which he used to communicate with us in ecstatic honks, his epic battle with stairs, and yes, even the running off into the woods made it into the story.

He stayed with us for eleven and a half years. During that time, he grew old, of course. His muzzle turned gray and his back legs began to give him a lot of trouble. He seemed unaware of it for a long time. He would slip, but recover and go back to chasing his brother, Nelson (an American Foxhound pup we adopted three years ago) around the living room or playing his favorite game, tug-of-war with a stuffed animal. The first time his back legs gave out completely, landing him flat on the ground, both legs splayed out, unable to get up without help—that shocked him as much as it did us. We started taking him to physical therapy and he ended up on more anti-inflammatories and painkillers than we liked. But unlike with Nelson, pills were never an issue for our intrepid Labrador, who doubled as a vacuum cleaner and food disposal unit. We carpeted the stairs, so he wouldn’t slip on them, and life went on.

Then one day last summer, Kumar could barely walk and his belly was shockingly bloated. We took him to the emergency vet and were told his spleen had cancerous tumors all over it. He was bleeding internally, and though they could remove the spleen, his chances of survival were very, very low. Erich was too distraught to deal with the doctors, so I held myself together and authorized the surgery while trying to hold my husband and Kumar’s anxious “baby brother” together.

Kumar surprised everyone. He came through the surgery fine and when we picked him up, despite warnings that he’d have to be carried to the car and up and down stairs (all 85 pounds of him) for several days, he refused any assistance. He walked out to the car under his own power and jumped over the ramp I’d bought for him to get into the backseat.

We took him to the best oncologist in New Hampshire, by all accounts, but the prognosis was grim. He had a very aggressive form of cancer, despite the tumors having been removed. He was unlikely to survive more than a few weeks. We authorized chemo-therapy, a course of five treatments over the next several months—though we were warned he might not even make it that long.

Again our boy surprised the doctors. He handled the chemo well, only feeling nauseous for a few days after each treatment (they were spaced two weeks apart) and bouncing back to his usual, energetic self after that. Whenever people asked how old he was, they were shocked to learn he was going on 13. His stamina wasn’t great, but otherwise he still ran around like a dog half his age. He got through the chemo treatments (the photo was taken by the oncologist when he “graduated”) and was his usual self throughout the holidays. I had hopes he’d stay with us until the spring.

But on Monday, he was feeling sluggish and had a low appetite—a definite warning sign with Labs! We’d walked in the forest twice that weekend and the weather was bitterly cold, so we kept an eye on him, hoping it was just that he was feeling some aches and pains from that. But it grew worse, until he wouldn’t walk more than a few feet before plopping down on the ground Tuesday afternoon, even outdoors. We took him to the emergency vet again and found out that he was bleeding again. The tired feeling he had was from anemia. His belly was once again filling up with blood and an ultrasound revealed masses all over his liver. This time, surgery wasn’t an option.

Erich could barely speak—Kumar was even more his baby than mine—so I spoke to the doctor. They took us into a warm, cozy room with dim lighting, soft couches, and an electric fireplace. Then we cuddled our beloved pup and made him feel loved, while he slowly went to sleep forever. Nelson was with us, and though he’d earlier whimpered and tried to follow Kumar into the back room for the exam, he seemed to know when Kumar was gone. He didn’t even look back as we left the room with Kumar still there.

After the serene brutality of that night, we’ve had to relive the pain several times as we called to cancel vet appointments, doggie daycare (we kept Nelson home with us the following day—more for us than for him), and physical therapy. The sight of Kumar’s dog bed and bowl are difficult, but we can’t remove them yet. Besides, Nelson likes to sleep in Kumar’s bed. He did that night.

Life goes on. But it’s going to be hard, every time we think about him. Still, if we hadn’t walked into the SPCA shelter that particular day and seen him by the slimmest chance, our lives would have been so much less. We were there for him right up to the end, and he knew he was loved.

Despite the pain of our loss, we wouldn’t change a thing.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Life, Pets

Happy Holidays from Jamie Fessenden

I’ve just been looking back through my posts and realized it ‘s been a very long time since I updated this blog. I apologize. I didn’t mean to be away so long. In fact, I started several posts over the intervening time, but couldn’t finish them. Some were controversial. Others were simply too meandering. So a quick update on what’s been going on with me:

It’s been a rough year, but not horrible. Everyone in the world has felt the effects of COVID-19, of course. Though several of my family and friends came down with it, nobody suffered any serious effects. I’m very grateful for that. But my husband and I have grown isolated during the lockdown. We’re still happily married, despite being in each other’s hair. Erich tends to lock himself in his office during work hours, so we see each other about as much as when he worked away from home. 🙂 And we’ve been gathering together with vaccinated friends and family recently.

Our eldest dog has been worrying us for a while. He suffers from hip dysplasia and goes to physical therapy for it, but the real issue is cancer. He nearly died from a ruptured spleen this summer, but fortunately was saved by the emergency vet. Now he’s undergoing chemotherapy and doing well, but we’ve been warned he has a very aggressive form of cancer, so we’re just taking it one day at a time. We’ve had him since just before we married, eleven years ago, and losing him is going to be brutal. 😦

I have been writing, though it sometimes feels like I have no energy for it—or anything, really. It turned out to be a mistake, pulling all of my novels and novellas from Dreamspinner Press. I’ve republished my bestsellers, but the remaining list was too long and I was overwhelmed (see “struggles with depression”), so I made the decision to give DSP permission to relist a few of my backlisted novels and novellas, simply so I could stop worrying about it and move forward again.

As a result of this, I’ve finally updated the sidebar links, so if you click on a cover image, it should take you to an actual published ebook, either self-published or through DSP (and one through Beaten Track PressBorderland, co-written with F.E. Feeley, Jr.). The paperbacks aren’t all there yet. I’ve self-published Violated as an eBook, for instance, but I’ve had trouble with the paperback formatting, so it isn’t listed yet. If you see a paperback going for an outrageous price, don’t waste your money. Those are people selling used copies and trying to scam you. The legit paperbacks won’t be that pricey.

Murderous Requiem and By That Sin Fell the Angels are going to be relisted soon. Several of my horror stories, including all of the Gothika stories, are being compiled into an anthology. That should come out soon, as well.

As I mentioned, I have writing, so you’ll be seeing new stories from me in the coming months—a new addition to the Gothika series, for one—but probably not until the Fall.

I’ll keep you posted!

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas, Contemporary, F.E. Feeley, Feeley, gay, Gay Marriage, horror, Jamie Fessenden, Life, Murderous Requiem, Pets, Romance, Work in Progress, Writing

“Borderland” is out in the world and doing well!

Borderland was a “labor of love,” as they say, from the start. FE Feeley, Jr. (henceforth referred to as “Fred”) proposed we work together on a horror novel over two years ago, and we tossed ideas back and forth until we settled on a ghost story set in a haunted inn in Vermont.

So much time has gone by, it’s now impossible to sort out who thought of what, but I recall Fred being interested in Vermont, because he wanted to visit New England. I’d never officially lived there, but they don’t call Vermont and New Hampshire the “twin states” for nothing. Jump in the car and you can reach anywhere in either state in a few hours. I’ve spent a lot of time there, especially near the border. It’s a gorgeous state: heavily forested, mountainous, and dotted with old farms. It’s about the same size as NH (but “upside-down” ;-p ), and the population is just over 600 thousand—half that of NH, and we’re not exactly struggling for elbow room.

Fred can also be credited with the idea of working the flu epidemic of 1918 into the story. I want to be clear that he thought of this years before the COVID-19 pandemic. Frankly, we might have veered away from the topic, if we’d known about the pandemic, since so many readers have had family affected by the virus. Instead, one might call it a bit of prescience. The story had already been submitted to our publisher by the time the pandemic hit the USA.

Writing with another author was a new experience for me, and it didn’t always go smoothly. We wrote scenes and showed them to each other, usually liking what we were piecing together, but as the order of the story was rearranged, some scenes had to be tossed and others extensively rewritten. One scene was simultaneously written by both of us, leaving us with the decision of which to keep. In final edits, we noticed that the music box was somehow upstairs in a bedroom and on the fireplace mantel in the living room at the same time. And who the heck was Meghan? Oh, that’s right. We changed her name to Grace…

But under the guidance of our wonderful editor, Debbie McGowan, at Beaten Track Publishing, we hammered the novel into something we’re all very proud of. And the reception has been wonderful. Here are some quotes from our favorite review sites:

“I very highly recommend this ghost story. It is one of my favorite reads in a long time. If you have Amazon, one-click it now. You won’t be sorry.” — Dan at Love Bytes Reviews

“If this is what a story becomes when FE Feeley and Jamie Fessenden collaborate, then sign me up for more. These two have put together an amazing combination of mystery, thriller, and horror, and then intertwined within all of that darkness, is a sweet, poignant romance that will stick with you long after “the end”.” —Melissa Brus at the Paranormal Romance Guild

“It was with great expectation I awaited this book…..I am a longtime follower of these two authors and expected nothing less than perfection….I received it hands down!!” — Gloria Lakritz at the Paranormal Romance Guild

“Yes, there is a sad element to this book. But there’s also hope, as well, and that’s deftly written by FE Feeley and by Jamie Fessenden, as well. I really enjoyed this book. It was an emotional roller coaster for me. It won’t necessarily be that way for everyone, although I would imagine that most people that read this book will have a definite visceral reaction to it. So, for me, Borderland is a lovely piece of writing. I thoroughly… I’m just really glad that I got to read it, and I’m giving it five stars.” — Kazza at On Top Down Under Reviews

I’m very proud of the work Fred and I did on the novel. Perhaps in the future we’ll collaborate on another one, and hopefully our process will go a bit smoother from our experience with Borderland.  In the meantime, I hope readers enjoy their visit with the hotel and it’s residents… both benign and evil.

They were young.
In the prime of life and recently married.
And then the diagnosis came.
Cancer.

George and Jason make arrangements to travel back to George’s home state of Vermont so he may pass away in the town where he grew up, but a terrible storm diverts the couple into the gates of an out-of-the-way hotel called Borderland.

Sure, the employees are well dressed and polite. Sure, the food and entertainment are old-time fare. But it’s all a schtick, right?

Or is there something far more sinister at work here?

Welcome to the Borderland Hotel, where you may check in, but you’ll never, ever leave.

Buy Links:

Beaten Track Publishing

Amazon

 

3 Comments

Filed under Contemporary, Feeley, Historical, horror, Jamie Fessenden, New Release, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Victorian, Writing

Making a clean break

I’m sad to report I’ve had to break away from Dreamspinner Press. The publisher has been having financial difficulties for a while, and over the past year, authors haven’t been receiving their royalties—at least, not consistently. I still hold out hope that they’ll get things in order and return to being the reliable press they’ve been for most of the decade I’ve worked with them, but the hit they’ve taken to their reputation means it’s in my best interest to step away. The last book I had released through them (Small Town Sonata) sold very badly. It could be the book, of course, but there are a lot of factors to consider. Many readers are boycotting DSP books and a lot of review sites won’t review them.

This is not going to turn into a rant about how hurt I am or how betrayed I feel. I’ve been in the corporate world far too long to view this as anything more than a company that took too many risks and ended up suffering a serious shortfall in revenue. They tried to act as if everything was fine for a while, as most companies in this situation do, because if a company is honest about their finances falling apart, they start a mass exodus, which turns “financial trouble” into “bankruptcy” very quickly. I’ve seen it happen many times. I don’t like it, but it’s the way businesses tend to operate. Many authors feel they’ve had their royalties stolen. I don’t see it that way. I see it as my royalties haven’t been paid yet. I still expect to be paid, eventually. The only thing I feel about the situation is sad. I was with DSP for a long time, and my experiences publishing through them were generally very good.

My biggest concern right now is getting my books to readers. I’ve just pulled 20 novels and novellas from publication, which means a good percentage of the links in that side panel are now invalid. I plan on submitting my YA novels—Seidman and the Dreams of Fire and Gods trilogy—to agents. There’s no reason they can’t be published in the “mainstream” YA market. YA agents and publishers are starting to embrace LGBTQ characters.

I might submit some of my adult novels/novellas to other publishers, such as Beaten Track Publishing, since I have a book with co-author F.E. Feeley, Jr. coming out through them this spring. Most, I think, will be self-published. But that will take time. I have permission to use some of my cover art, but I’ll have to commission new covers for many stories.

In some cases, I might do a little rewriting. Readers almost unanimously hated a particular moment in We’re Both Straight, Right? so I think I’ll rework it. Similarly, the epilogue of Billy’s Bones was problematic.

For now, I’ll simply say, “Stay tuned…”

 

8 Comments

Filed under James Erich, Jamie Fessenden, Life, publishing, Romance, Writing, Young Adult

The Spookiest Stories from Jamie Fessenden!

I missed Halloween with this post, so I’ll aim for the Day of the Dead instead! My intent was to blog about some of the scary/creepy stories I’ve written over the years.

I love horror, so I’m actually surprised I haven’t written more of it. For a very brief time, I made micro-budget horror films. They were of variable quality, and unfortunately you can only see one, at present, on YouTube. It’s really grisly, so don’t watch it if you don’t go for gore. I made it for the Eerie Horror Fest in 2006. They had a contest for filmmakers to submit ads for the festival. Sadly, ours “won,” simply because it was the only submission, but I’m proud of it. We were experimenting with lighting and learning how to use our new camera crane (basically a teeter-totter device that allowed the camera to smoothly pan up and down). If you go to the YouTube channel for Dunkirk Studios, you can see some trailers for other films we worked on. Some made it into festivals, but our big project, “The Resurrection,” was never finished, due to lack of locations willing to allow naked people covered in blood to run around on their premises. It would have been epic. EPIC.

After publishing some short stories  and novellas (one I’d consider novel-length, in its second edition), I decided to dive into a full-length novel in same vein as The Da Vinci Code, in which the characters are piecing together an occult mystery by researching ancient tomes. The result was Murderous Requiem.

 

In this novel, I delved into the writings of Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), the Italian scholar who was more or less responsible for bringing the works of Plato to the West, and who believed that music could heal the human body by bringing our pure spiritual form into harmony with our physical form. He was a jack-of-all-trades – a doctor, philosopher, writer, and composer – so the story is about the discovery of a mass written by Ficino, which could go one step further and pull the soul back into the body after death. The story involves a beautiful drug addict with the voice of an angel, a murder, nearly everything my music theory major taught me in college, and ominous, supernatural flocks of ravens.

Bigfoot Hunters in Love was originally a free short story I gave away on my blog. You can still get it here. But I thought it needed more, so eventually I expanded upon it and contracted Scott J. Coatsworth to create a cover that conveyed both the silly elements of the story and the creepiness. It’s about a man who moves to the country and is chased into the forest one night by a monster. He loses his slippers and his dignity, eventually crashing headlong into a man who’s been hunting the creature for years. Along with our hero’s trusty dog, Thor, they set out to uncover proof that the creature exists.

Sadly, the anthology of bizarre stories set in the Old West edited by my friend and fellow author, Kim Fielding, is no longer available, except in used paperbacks. I’ll have to republish my short story from it: The Sheriff of Para Siempre. This was one of my favorite of my own stories, about two young men hiring themselves out as law-enforcement in a dying mining town. It ultimately involves a man who simply won’t stay dead, and the ending is the most tragic thing I’ve ever written. As one reviewer said: “I’m a blubbering mess right now, so if I’m not making sense, you can blame it on Jamie Fessenden. Quite simply, this story broke me. It broke my heart and it made me speechless.”

Author and friend, Eli Easton, came up with a great idea for an anthology: Gothic horror romances to be released each Halloween, each with a specific theme. The first was called Gothika #1: Stitch, and Eli did the cover for it. It was gorgeous. I even made a book trailer, which looks a bit clunky, in retrospect, since it was the first time I played with Movie Maker. But I’m very proud of the music I wrote for it. (Yes, all those tens of thousands I spent on my music theory degree paid off!)

I won’t describe all the wonderful stories in these anthologies, since that would take forever, but I’ll briefly describe the stories I wrote. For Stitch, I wrote a story called Watchworks, about a watchmaker in Victorian London, who is called to the home of a wealthy gentleman for a bizarre purpose: to repair the intricate mechanical hand of a handsome young man. The hand is so lifelike, it’s impossible to tell it isn’t flesh, unless the artificial skin is removed. But as the watchmaker attempts to repair the hand, he begins to suspect more and more of the young man is clockwork. Just how much of him is still human?

 

For Gothika #2: Bones, I wrote a Young Adult story about two teenagers living in a Latinx neighborhood in Manchester, New Hampshire. One has a grandmother (abuelita) who runs a botánica – a shop that sells folk medicine and magical items used in vodou rituals – and when he attempts to acquire a copy of the dreaded Book of St. Cyprian for the shop, he accidentally releases a dark spirit that possesses his friend’s dog. The two boys work frantically to exorcise the spirit, before it can hurt the dog or, worse… abuelita finds out what they’ve been up to.

Don’t expect any sex with this one, but it’s fun and creepy and has some interesting stuff about local vodou practices. I had a couple of Spanish-speaking friends take me to the botánica in Manchester, so we could quiz the owner and see what she had for sale. And, yes, the Book of St. Cyprian is a real book, rumored to be so evil, anyone who reads it risks losing their soul.

Isolation (Gothika #3: Claw) is adapted from a screenplay I wrote, but was never able to film – mostly because we weren’t able to find a good location. It follows a man who once had a great relationship with his best friend and lover, but chickened out of a long-term gay relationship and married a woman. Years later, after his marriage has disintegrated, he comes back with his tail between his legs, hoping to rekindle what he and his friend once had.

But he finds his friend living deep in the woods, isolated from the town, and not at all willing to get into a relationship with him… or anyone, apparently. And he soon discovers there is something sinister prowling through the forest at night…

 

For Gothika #4: Spirit, the theme was ghost stories, and I delved into the history of the old mill buildings in New England, which were plagued by fires that killed massive amounts of workers – usually young women. The most famous is the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire which killed 146 workers, mostly Italian and Jewish immigrant women in their teens and early twenties (the youngest was 14), because the doors to stairwells and exits were locked to prevent workers from sneaking out on breaks.

For The Mill, I adapted a ballad about the Granite Mill to my fictional mill building, and had a team of ghost-hunters investigating appearances that have frightened off construction workers so often the building now lies empty and abandoned.

The last Gothika we did was called Contact, and it dealt with stories of alien abduction.

My story was called, not surprisingly, Abduction. It’s about a man who visits an old boyfriend and finds that he’s basically had a nervous breakdown and ranting about aliens abducting him and implanting things in his body. Our hero agrees to stay the night and help watch for aliens, and to his horror, he’s abducted.

The aliens don’t experiment on him, but that’s because he was abducted by different aliens than his friend was abducted by. In order to save his friend, he has to take sides in an interstellar war and befriend the commander of the ship he’s a prisoner on. Over time, he and the commander discover they have a connection…

Leave a comment

Filed under Contemporary, Day of the Dead, Film Writing, gay, Halloween, horror, Jamie Fessenden, Murderous Requiem, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Pets, Romance

“Small Town Sonata” is RELEASED!!!

My Dreamspun Desires novel, Small Town Sonata, hits the stands today!

For anyone who hasn’t been following, this novel is a very personal one for me. I taught myself to play piano as a teenager and picked it up pretty quickly. I was actually good enough to play at the Homecoming assembly in my high school just a couple of years later. (Okay, it was a very small school, in a rural area.)

I was good enough to get into the music program at the University of New Hampshire, but alas I’d taught myself a lot of bad fingering, and I was never able to overcome that. I’d always dreamt of being a professional pianist, but it was not to be.

Aiden is a bit of wish-fulfillment – a child prodigy who quickly outgrew his small town and had to leave, in order to pursue a shining career, traveling around the world as a sought-after pianist.

But as I would, if I were in his place, he misses his small-town life… and the handsome young man he’d begun a tentative relationship with when he was a teenager. He returns under unhappy circumstances, but finds his old boyfriend, Dean, has grown into a handsome, well-liked man.

And then things begin to get interesting…

Can the trusted town handyman rebuild a broken pianist’s heart?

When a freak accident ends Aiden’s career as a world-renowned classical pianist, he retreats to his New Hampshire hometown, where he finds the boy he liked growing up is even more appealing as a man.

Dean Cooper’s life as handyman to the people of Springhaven might not be glamorous, but he’s well-liked and happy. When Aiden drifts back into town, Dean is surprised to find the bond between them as strong as ever. But Aiden is distraught over the loss of his career and determined to get back on the international stage.

Seventeen years ago Dean made a sacrifice and let Aiden walk away. Now, with their romance rekindling, he knows he’ll have to make the sacrifice all over again. This time it may be more than he can bear.

Leave a comment

Filed under Contemporary, gay, Jamie Fessenden, LGBT, Music, New Release, Romance

New Release! Small Town Sonata is now available for pre-order!


My Dreamspun Desires title, Small Town Sonata, will be hitting the stores on August 6th, and is already available for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press and Amazon!

This is a return to light, fun romance, after spending so much time writing dark stories. I spent a lot of time lovingly describing the town I grew up in, until I was about eleven, making everything vivid and brightly colored, full of the scents of lilacs and cut grass and warm coffee. It was a wonderful experience for me, and I hope it will be for you as well!

Can the trusted town handyman rebuild a broken pianist’s heart?

When a freak accident ends Aiden’s career as a world-renowned classical pianist, he retreats to his New Hampshire hometown, where he finds the boy he liked growing up is even more appealing as a man.

Dean Cooper’s life as handyman to the people of Springhaven might not be glamorous, but he’s well-liked and happy. When Aiden drifts back into town, Dean is surprised to find the bond between them as strong as ever. But Aiden is distraught over the loss of his career and determined to get back on the international stage.

Seventeen years ago Dean made a sacrifice and let Aiden walk away. Now, with their romance rekindling, he knows he’ll have to make the sacrifice all over again. This time it may be more than he can bear.

Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/small-town-sonata-by-jamie-fessenden-10674-b

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Small-Town-Sonata-Dreamspun-Desires-ebook/dp/B07QXQYH8X/

Excerpt:

Dean was unaccountably nervous as he followed Aiden around to the backyard. It wasn’t as if they were going to fuck in the gazebo or anything. Aiden had already vetoed making out, which was reasonable. But Dean had thought about him a lot over the years. After a couple of years had gone by with no sign of Aiden returning to Springhaven, even for just a summer, any delusions Dean had had about them running off together had died a painful death. But, yeah. Dean had still thought about him. And his thoughts hadn’t always been pure.

Now, Aiden was walking just a few feet ahead of him, and he’d grown up to be sexier than Dean’s most lurid fantasies. My God, look at that ass!

The gazebo was octagonal, with one side open and the other seven enclosed by a waist-high white wooden railing. Three curved benches formed a semicircle in the center, underneath a conical roof. The gazebo rested in the center of the lawn surrounded on all sides by a small, artificial frog pond, and that was surrounded by more of Mrs. Scott’s rosebushes. The scent of the flowers hung heavy in the warm evening air, and a chorus of crickets and spring peepers serenaded the men as they crossed the small, arched bridge and climbed the short flight of wooden steps.

As a boy, Dean had thought the Scotts must be millionaires. He knew that wasn’t the case, now, but they were certainly well-off.

“I’m tempted to light the TIKI torches,” Aiden said, grinning. “But I suppose Dad would come barreling out of the house, demanding to know who was screwing around in his yard. Either that, or Mom would be worried I was out here moping.”

“Moping about what?”

The shadows inside the gazebo were deep, so Dean couldn’t see Aiden’s face clearly, but there was a sadness in his voice. “Nothing. I guess I miss New York a bit.”

Dean could tell that wasn’t the real reason, but he doubted he’d get much more out of Aiden by prying.

A firefly drifted into the gazebo and they watched its slow flight until it landed on the railing. It sat there, blinking a soft greenish-yellow.

“You really liked it there?” Dean asked at last.

“I guess so. It was busy. Exciting. And people treated me like….” He trailed off.

“Like what?”

Aiden gave out a faint, wistful little laugh. “Like a movie star.”

“Just because you play piano?” Dean realized he was probably being insulting. “Sorry. I mean… you play great. I love listening to you. But are you saying people wanted your autograph and shit like that?”

Aiden was silent for a long time, and Dean was afraid he was going to turn around, go back inside, and that would be the last time Aiden ever bothered to talk to him. Why the fuck did I have to say it like that?

Eventually, Aiden said, “Sometimes.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know shit about stuff like that.”

Another long silence. Then Aiden said, “Mom tells me you play clarinet now.”

“Uh… yeah. I’m not that good, though.”

Aiden sat down on one of the benches. “You play in the town fair?”

“Sort of.” Dean sat beside him, praying Aiden wouldn’t immediately get up again. The bench was small, so they were forced to sit close together. Dean could feel the heat of Aiden’s arm against his own, but Aiden made no move to put distance between them. “Remember Bart Robinson?”

“The math teacher?”

“Well, he was when you and I were in high school. He retired ages ago. And he put the Springhaven Septet—that’s what we called the band—together. We played every summer, until he passed away a couple of years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Yeah.” Dean sighed. “So this year, they’re making me do it.”

“The band? Who’s making you do it?”

Dean held his hands out in front of him in a gesture of surrender. “The Ladies of Lilac Lane.”

“The… what?”

That was right. The ladies hadn’t formed their little cabal before Aiden left. “Well, they’re kind of a… bunch of old women who boss people around a lot. Especially me.”

Aiden laughed and nudged him with his arm. “I didn’t think anyone could boss you around.”

“Yeah, well… I guess I let them.”

Dean shifted uncomfortably. He wasn’t sure if he could explain it in any way that made sense to anyone else. “Do you remember Mr. Whitaker?”

Aiden sighed, a wistful sound. “Oh, yeah. I was thinking about him this afternoon, when I went uptown.”

“He kind of saved my life.”

Aiden huffed out a breath. “By making you mop his floor?”

“He told me that night, ‘Springhaven is a small community. A place where people still trust their neighbors. A lot of us don’t even lock our doors. But you’ve got the power to change that. If you want to live in a town where people always have to lock up and keep their eye on each other, well… all you gotta do is keep stealin’ people’s stuff. You’ll make it happen.’”

Aiden seemed to think about that for a while. Then he said, “Not that I’m saying you should have kept on stealing, but even if you didn’t, somebody else could.”

“Yeah,” Dean replied, nodding. “But I decided it wasn’t gonna be me. I liked the fact that everybody could trust their neighbors here, and I wasn’t gonna be the one to destroy that. I never stole another thing after that day. A while later Mr. Whitaker hired me for some yard work and started recommending me to his friends. That’s how I got started doing handyman stuff. And the old people in this town? They’re the best friends I ever had.” Then, without thinking, he added, “’Cept for you. But you left.”

He hadn’t meant to say that last part. It had just sort of slipped out. He knew then that, as much as he thought he’d gotten over that brief teenage romance between them, he hadn’t. Not really. The memory of how alone he’d been during the last years of high school was still painful to think about.

God, I’m pathetic.

To his surprise, Aiden reached out and covered Dean’s hand with his. He didn’t say “I’m sorry” or anything else. He just quietly took Dean’s hand and held it. They sat in silence for a long time, and Dean was grateful he didn’t have to speak, because a lump had formed in his throat. If he tried to say anything, he’d probably embarrass himself.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Contemporary, Cover, Excerpt, gay, Jamie Fessenden, LGBT, New Release, Romance

July Fourth Weekend Sale!

July Fourth Weekend Sale

 

 

Kiss Me Daddy

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular price: $3.99

Operation Makeover

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular price: $3.99

Lucky

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $4.99

The Rules

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $4.29

Melting for You

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $2.99

The Rainbow Clause

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $3.99

The River Leith

Sale Price: FREE / Regular Price: $3.99

Rainbow Place

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $2.99

Spark

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $4.99

Maybe This Time

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $3.99

Family Camp

Sale Price: $.99 / Regular Price: $3.99

Rapid Response

Sale Price: $0.99 / Regular Price: $4.99

Leave a comment

Filed under gay, Holiday Sale, Jamie Fessenden, LGBT, Romance

Thirty Years of Pride

Thirty Years of Pride

by Jamie Fessenden

I came out in the early eighties, when I was still a teenager. I also had the misfortune of attending the Assembly of God church my father attended. So right out of the starting gate, before I’d even had my first sexual experience, I was EVIL. I prayed about it in secret, read the Bible, and fought my “sinful urges” for about a year, until I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t deny how I felt, I couldn’t accept the lame explanations for why sex with someone of the same gender was wrong, if both of us were consenting adults, and I couldn’t continue to participate in a religion that made no sense to me.

So, I gave up on Christianity.

Maybe if I’d known my stepfather at the time (a Baptist minister my mother married, when I was in college), I’d have stuck it out. Bob is a wonderful man with an inclusive view of his religion. But I didn’t know him back then. While my mother accepted me without condemnation, she was divorced from my father and no longer attended church, which didn’t make her the best person to bring me back into the fold. (To be fair, I didn’t come out to my father back then, and I’ve since discovered he’s a bit more open-minded than his church.)

This was a decade after Stonewall, but though things had changed, it was still not a welcoming world for a young gay man. As a teenager, I was convinced I had to be the only gay man in my small town. I could find no evidence of an LGBTQ community. Keep in mind, this was before the Internet. There was nothing to guide me, except the few gay porn magazines in the bookstore. The used bookstore in town had some gay novels. I bought pretty much every one I found, as well as the ones that popped up sporadically over the next several months (this should have been a clue that other gay men were in the area, but I was slow.) Unfortunately, nearly all ended tragically, which just sent me into a downward spiral of depression. I was convinced that gay men could never find love and settle down with a family. We were doomed to anonymous encounters in porn shops, and death from AIDS or gay-bashing.

Read the rest on BG Thomas’s blog:

https://bthomaswriter.wordpress.com/2019/06/27/gay-pride-month-day-twenty-seven-special-guest-jamie-fessenden/

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized