Monthly Archives: May 2011

First draft of “By That Sin Fell the Angels” done!

This novel really wiped me out.  It wasn’t fun.  It was more of a purging of all the religious crap I had to deal with as a teenager, and the turmoil I felt, trying to reconcile my sexuality with what the Bible told me.  I had to stop several times, during the year it took to write the novel, and put it aside, so I could breathe again.  But in the end, I feel that I’ve produced something verging on the poetic and beautiful. 

Readers may not feel the same — they may feel that it’s cornball, melodramatic, or (worse!) dull.  But it felt beautiful, when I wrote it, and hard to express, and emotionally upsetting, and a host of other emotions.  It felt like art.

Which may make it crap, to the rest of the world.  We’ll see.  I did get some very positive feedback from my friend, Claire, who loved it.  So maybe it’s good.  I’m still waiting on other people’s comments.

In the meantime, I have so many Bible verses kicking around in my head, I feel vaguely nauseous.  Time to move on to something completely different for a while.

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Filed under Drama, Writing, Young Adult

Excerpt from “We’re Both Straight, Right?” coming out in June

The following is a brief excerpt from my short novella, We’re Both Straight, Right?, which is coming out in June as part of the First Time for Everything daily dose at Dreamspinner Press.  My story will be available for separate purchase at some point in June, but I don’t know if it will be on the 1st or a later date. 

We’re Both Straight, Right? is my first published comedy, and it’s relatively raunchy, compared to the other stories I’ve had published. 

BLURB — “We’re Both Straight, Right?” by Jamie Fessenden

Zack and Larry have been best friends since middle school and are now
college roommates. But when Larry hears that other guys they know are
getting paid to have gay sex on camera, he convinces Zack that they could
pick up some quick, easy cash by being in one of these films… together.

If Zack thinks making a gay porn film with his best friend is disturbing, he
is absolutely horrified when Larry proposes they “rehearse” for the film so
they won’t be nervous in front of the director. As the they fumble their way
through a checklist of sexual positions and acts, Zack finds himself seeing
Larry in an entirely new light—a very sexy new light, and possibly a
romantic one, as well. But does Larry feel the same? Or is this all for easy
money?

EXCERPT — “We’re Both Straight, Right?” by Jamie Fessenden

“Did you bring your IDs?” Ed asked, spreading some papers out on a desk in the corner. When Zack and Larry produced their licenses, he looked them over and said, “All right. Please look over the release forms and sign them.”

“Our friend said we wouldn’t have to use our real names,” Zack said quickly.

“Do you mean ‘Alphonso’?” Ed asked, rolling his eyes.  “Trust me, he signed his real name on the release form. You have to, in order for it to be legal. We never use last names in the credits, but there’s a line there for a pseudonym, if you’d like one.”

Larry went ahead and signed, only hesitating when he got to the pseudonym. “Hey, can I be Butch Cassidy?” He looked at Zack. “You can be the Sundance Kid.”

“You can be ‘Butch’,” Ed said, “but nobody is going to believe a straight guy with the name ‘Sundance’. Your friend can be ‘Robert’, if he likes. After Robert Redford?”

Larry seemed to like that idea, so that’s what Zack wrote down.

Ed signed the forms after they did and used a desktop scanner to print copies for them.

“Now, why don’t you two go have a seat on the couch, and we’ll begin?”

The couch? Already?

“Don’t you want to interview us?” Zack asked quickly.

“Are you and your debonair friend both anatomically male?”

Zack blinked at him. “Um… yes.”

“End of interview!” Ed exclaimed, clapping his hands together in delight. “You’re hired!

“Look, kid,” he added when Zack continued to stare at him, “I can already see that you’re exactly what we’re looking for—good-looking, straight-acting, and the right age to be both legal and in college. So, unless you’re changing your mind—”

“No!” Larry interrupted. “We’re good.”

“Then let’s make a movie!”

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Filed under Romance, Writing

YA, or not YA. That is the question….

So, after all that talk about getting back to work on my cyberpunk stories, what ended up grabbing me instead was my drama about teen suicide and fundamentalism, By That Sin Fell the Angels.

It’s a good novel, in my opinion.  I picked it up again and immediately got caught up in it, unable to put it down until I got to where I’d left off, just before the end.  Since then, I’ve written a little over 2,000 words (about two days’ work) and I’m within a chapter of the finish.  It will probably have an epilogue.

But after regarding it as a YA novel for the past year or so, I’m beginning to wonder if it really is.  The story is told from three points of view:  Jonah, a teenager who was friends with the kid who killed himself; Terry, a teacher at the high school; and Isaac, the fundamentalist minister whose son killed himself.  All of these are narrated in 3rd person. 

When I’m writing the story from Jonah’s point of view, it feels very much like a YA novel.  But not so much, when I’m writing from Terry’s or Isaac’s point of view.  So can a novel be considered a YA novel, when only one-third of it is told from a teenager’s point of view?  I’m not sure.  But if it’s an adult novel, I’m at a loss where to send it.  Because the issues it deals with are more of interest to teens, I think, than adults.  Though, of course, that isn’t strictly true.  I still read YA novels for fun, and so do a lot of adults, and a novel about teens dealing with suicide is something adults could be interested in reading. 

I’m just not certain which publisher or agent I should approach.  Certainly, it doesn’t seem appropriate for most of the ebook publishers I buy from.  There’s no sex, to speak of.  A lot of crude language (because, hey, Jamie wrote it) and frank discussions of sex (and drug use), but nothing explicit.  There isn’t even any real romance, though there are characters who are in romantic relationships or grow fond of each other during the novel. 

But it does have something important to say, I think.  I don’t want to let it languish, even if that means self-publishing.

I guess I’ll just finish it and have some people read it, to see what they think.

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Filed under Drama, Writing, Young Adult

Jamie Goes Commando

No, not that type of commando.

Well, not at the moment, anyway….

I’m afraid the Japanese story is beginning to wear on me — too much research and cultural nitpicking — so I think I’ll have to take a break from it.  Usually, after I go through my “Japanese Phase,” I segue into a “Cyberpunk Phase.”  This is due, in large part, to psychological associations between Japanese culture and Cyberpunk fiction.  If you aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about, check out William Gibson, the novel “Snowcrash,” the film “Bladerunner” and about a hundred other references, including a bunch of Anime.

But somewhere wedged in between Japanese culture and cyberpunk, I often wander into high-tech Special Ops military fiction.  This is probably the fault of Tom Clancy, especially in his NetForce series.  And of course, the recent Navy SEAL attack on the Osama bin Laden compound didn’t hurt either.  (I won’t get my opinions on that issue here — I’m trying to keep this blog restricted to writing.)

So, getting back to writing, this means I’ll probably do one of two things:  1) Pick up Eastside-84, my ailing YA dystopian novel, again and try once more to fix the issues beta readers have been having with it, or 2) Continue with the next installment of The Dogs of Cyberwar.  The first installment is still in limbo, waiting for a response from the publisher I submitted it to.  I have to admit, I’m a bit concerned that a rejection letter on that one could derail any new installment I happen to be working on.  Not permanently — there are plenty of other publishers to submit to — but it might cause things to shut down for a while.

What I’ll probably do is pick up Eastside-84 and work on fixing that one (I have a few ideas what to do with it), while I start outlining the sequel to The Dogs of Cyberwar.

I also need to think of a title for the series….

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Filed under Cyberpunk, Writing

How to address a samurai without him cutting you in half

I think I finally figured out that commoners in feudal Japan would not call a samurai by his last name, followed by –sama, or tono, which means “lord.”  Tono is more for actual lords, and so is –sama.  According to people I’ve spoken to who know some Japanese, as well as Akira Kurosawa (who may or may not have known what he was doing in all of his historical films), a samurai would be addressed as <name>-san, or by the term sensei (teacher, but also other figures of authority). 

Sensei can be used sarcastically to ridicule someone who’s too full of himself, but I suspect that usage may be modern.  In any case, anyone addressing a samurai like that had better be of equal or higher rank, if he wanted to survive the experience.

Shinosuke is now approaching 14,000 words, which was my goal for the story, but considering the fact that the romance has only progressed to the point at which Senpachi and Shinosuke have had their first kiss, I think the story may go on a bit longer than I originally intended.  Not bad, considering it’s being adapted from a story about 500 words long, to begin with. 

Incidentally, tracking down the original story, to verify that it wasn’t a modern fabrication, posing as an old samurai tale, was a bitch.  I finally found it in a book called Comrade Loves of the Samurai  by Ihara Saikaku, translated by E. Powys Mathers.  It was written in the mid-1600s, so I’m pretty safely out of copyright.  Even the translation was done in the 1920s, if I recall, but it hardly matters, since I’m not directly quoting anything.

So far, I’ve spent about a month and a half on this, which is longer than I’ve spent on the first draft of any story of this length.  Is it worth it?  I’m not sure yet.  It hasn’t gripped me and carried me away, which could be a bad sign.  But it’s often in the second draft, when I add the details and flesh the characters out that a story really comes alive.  So we’ll see.

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Filed under Japanese, Writing

Happy Birthday Dreamspinner Press!

I don’t usually intend to post advertisements in my personal blog, but this is for my publisher.  Because they’re turning four years old this month, they’re offering a number of discounts on their books, and they are using a demand side platform for advertisement so I though I could give them some extra help.  If you like m/m ebooks, please check it out at Dreamspinner Press!

Happy Birthday Dreamspinner Press – May Specials

Now through midnight EST May 31, 2011.
20% off all ebooks in the Dreamspinner Press store.
A drawing each week for an ebook reader of the winner’s choice: Kindle WiFi, NOOK WiFi, or Sony PRS 350SC
49.99 on the 2011 DD set – First Time for Everything until May 25

Week One Specials:
40% off all ebooks that are turning 4 with us:
A Summer Place
Cursed
To Love a Cowboy
Slight Details & Random Events
Caught Running
Diplomacy

Week Two Specials:
30% off all ebooks that are turning 3
Far From Home by Madeleine Urban
Alliance in Blood by Ariel Tachna
The Archer by Abigail Roux
Murder Most Gay by John Simpson
Love Ahead by Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux
Condor One by John Simpson
Sparks Fly by Clare London
Selfless by Michael Powers
Children of Bacchus by Andrew Grey
Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux
Task Force by John Simpson
Covenant in Blood by Ariel Tachna
Irish Winter by John Simpson
True Blue by Connie Bailey

Week Three Specials:
Download the first book from seven of our most popular series FREE – a different book each day.
Sunday – May 15 – Condor One by John Simpson
Monday – May 16 – Litha’s Whim by Amy Lane
Tuesday – May 17 – Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux
Wednesday – May 18 – Promises by Marie Sexton
Thursday – May 19 – His Hearth by Mary Calmes
Friday – May 20 – Love Means… No Shame by Andrew Grey
Saturday – May 21 – Luke by Jan Irving

Week Four Specials:
All Dreamspinner Press Anthology ebooks 50% off!
A Brush of Wings
Curious
Games in the Dark
Know When to Hold ’em
Make Me a Match, Vol. 1 & 2
Making Contact
Mr. Right Now
Myths and Magic: Legends of Love
Necking
Reflections of Love
Riding Double
Sandals and Sodomy
Sindustry Vol. 1 & 2
Uniform Appeal

Check the Dreamspinner Press Homepage May 29, 30, and 31st for three special surprises.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing